Health Care

How To Help Someone Having a Seizure

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While seizures, whether caused by epilepsy or other medical conditions, are extremely common, that doesn't make them any less concerning to witness. What's most important to remember is that not all seizures are medical emergencies; luckily, they often stop on their own without causing lasting damage.

Still, there's a lot you can do to help a person experiencing a seizure. Keep reading to learn what to do if someone is having a seizure so you can help keep them safe.

What Are Seizures?

Seizures can come in many forms but are generally caused by an electrical disruption to your brain's activity. They can be focal, affecting one part of the brain, or generalized, affecting multiple parts of the brain.

When you think of seizure symptoms, you're likely picturing a tonic-clonic seizure, also known as a grand mal seizure. These seizures can cause:

  • Crying out
  • Falling to the ground
  • Jerking or spasming muscles
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Uncontrolled eye movements

What To Do if Someone Is Having a Seizure

If someone near you is having a seizure, you can take steps to help them, including:

  • Checking for a medical alert bracelet with information about their condition
  • Cushioning their head if they're on the ground
  • Keeping other people away
  • Loosening any tight clothing around the neck
  • Monitoring the person's breathing
  • Moving any nearby sharp or dangerous objects
  • Moving them if they're in a dangerous location
  • Staying with them and keeping them calm as they recover
  • Timing the seizure

After convulsions stop, you can move the person into a "recovery position" on their side, which can help keep their airway clear. Be sure to note any information about the seizure, including what the person was doing before it happened, how long it lasted, if they became unconscious, changes in breathing and if any parts of the body twitched or jerked.

When To Call 911 for a Seizure

Not all seizures require emergency medical support, such as an ambulance or a trip to the emergency department. But you should call 911 if the person has:

  • An injury that happened during the seizure
  • A seizure that lasts more than five minutes
  • A seizure while in the water
  • Never experienced a seizure before
  • New seizures after the first one ends
  • Other health conditions like diabetes or is pregnant
  • Trouble breathing or becoming alert after the seizure

What Not To Do if Someone Is Having a Seizure

Knowing what not to do for someone during a seizure is just as important as knowing what to do. Despite popular myths, you shouldn't:

  • Administer CPR or mouth-to-mouth breathing
  • Hold the person down or try to restrict their movement
  • Offer food or water until they're fully alert and responsive
  • Put anything in their mouth

Take Control of Your Body's Command Center

Your nervous system – including your brain and spinal cord – controls every part of your body. If you or a loved one are experiencing a nervous system disorder, we're here for you. Caring for everything from seizures to migraines to Alzheimer's disease, your health is in good hands with our neurotological specialists.

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