Epilepsy: First Aid for Seizures
The following tips will help to ensure your safety if you have a seizure.
- Always carry medical identification. If an emergency occurs, knowledge of your seizure disorder can help the people around you maintain your safety and provide the appropriate treatment.
- Make sure your family, friends and co-workers know what to do if you have a seizure. (See below.)
- Avoid potential dangers of high places or moving machinery at home, school or work if you have active seizures. Though there is less risk if your seizures are under control, your attention should focus on the specific risks of certain activities (such as mowing, working around farm machinery, hot appliances, etc.).
- It is important for you to remain active, but participate in sports and other activities with caution. Avoid potentially dangerous activities, such as bathing, swimming, gymnastics or mountain climbing without someone near by. Have another person with you who knows your seizure risk and is trained in life-saving techniques. Activities such as baseball, bike riding, canoeing, horseback riding or hockey can be made safer by wearing helmets and/or life jackets and by having another person with you.
- If you are prescribed anticonvulsant medication, do not suddenly stop taking it or change the dosage without consulting your doctor. The type of anticonvulsant medication you are prescribed depends on the type of epilepsy you have, and the dose that is prescribed especially for you according to your weight, age, gender and other factors.
- Be alert to the risks of possible drug interactions between your anticonvulsant medications and other medications you may take, including over-the-counter drugs. Always call your doctor or pharmacist if you are not sure what interactions could occur before taking any medication.
- Avoid alcohol, as it can interfere with the effectiveness of your medication.
What Should I Do for a Person Who Has a Seizure?
- Loosen clothing around the person's neck.
- Do not try to hold the person down or restrain him or her, this can result in injury.
- Do not insert any objects in the person's mouth; this can also cause injury.
- Reassure bystanders who may be panicking and ask them to give the person room.
- Remove sharp objects (glasses, furniture and other objects) from around the person to prevent injury.
- After the seizure, it is helpful to lay the person on his or her side to maintain an open airway and prevent the person from inhaling any secretions.
- After many seizures, there may be confusion for a period of time and the person should not be left alone.
- In many cases, especially if the person is known to have epilepsy, it is not necessary to call an ambulance. If the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes, or if another seizure begins soon after the first, or if the person cannot be awakened after the movements have stopped, an ambulance should be called. If you are concerned that something else may be wrong, or the person has another medical condition such as heart disease or diabetes, you should contact a doctor immediately.
What Should I Do if a Child Has a Seizure?
Different types of seizures may require different responses. See below for a breakdown of the most common types of seizures and what to do for the child in each case.
|Seizure Type||What To Do|
|Generalized Tonic-Clonic or Grand Mal (Loss of Awareness)||
|Absence or Petit Mal (Loss of Awareness)||
|Partial Seizure (No Loss of Awareness)||
|Partial Seizures (Loss of Awareness)||
|Myoclonic Seizures (Loss of Awareness)||
|Myoclinic Jerks (No Loss of Awareness)||
Learn more about Epilepsy: type of seizures and their symptoms.
Reviewed by The Cleveland Clinic Neuroscience Center .
Edited by Cynthia Haines, MD, WebMD, October 2004.
Portions of this page © The Cleveland Clinic 2000-2004
Last Editorial Review: 1/31/2005 8:08:00 AM
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