Prevention: If someone has epilepsy they may have medication to take which will reduce the chance of seizures. Other causes are hard to prevent because nothing is suspected of being wrong until the seizure.
Warning signs: • Aside from the casualty having some kind of aura, e.g. smelling burnt toast, there are no warning signs that a seizure is about to happen. Once it begins the person may appear totally spaced out, may appear to be sleep walking, or may be on the ground convulsing.
Helping for Generalized Convulsive Seizures:
• Keep calm; let the seizure take its course. Do not try to stop the seizure or revive the person.
• Protect person from further injury by moving hard or sharp objects away, but do not interfere with the person’s movements.
Place something soft and small, such as a sweater, under their head, and loosen tight clothing around the neck. • Do not force anything in the person’s mouth. This could cause teeth and jaw damage, or choking. The person will not swallow their tongue during a seizure.
• Roll the person on their side as soon as possible, to allow saliva or other fluids to drain away, helping to clear the airway. Do not be frightened if a person having a seizure stops breathing momentarily. • If a seizure goes on longer than 5 minutes, repeats without full recovery, or the person becomes injured, then call for medical assistance.
*A seizure is a sudden burst of electricity in your brain.
*Doctors do not always know why someone has epilepsy.
*Someone who has epilepsy can not give it to someone else.
*Most seizures last a few minutes or less.
*One way to stop seizures is to take medicine.
*You should dial 911 if someone is having a seizure and there is no adult nearby.
*If someone is having a seizure you should not put anything in their mouth.
*The word epilepsy, which means "to seize," comes from the Greek language.
*Julius Caesar, Vincent van Gogh and Napoleon Bonaparte all had epilepsy.
*The esophagus is not part of your brain.
Helping for Partial Non-Convulsive Seizures (e.g. like sleep walking): • Stay with the person, let the seizure take its course. Do not try to stop the seizure or revive the person. The person will be unaware of his or her actions, and may or may not hear you.Gently guide the person away from danger, move dangerous objects out of the way. Partial seizures may spread to other areas of the brain. Do not be alarmed if a convulsive seizure follows.
Notes: Always be comforting, be gentle, and reassure the person, as it may take some time for them to become re-oriented. A seizure is the physical findings or changes in behavior that occur after an episode of abnormal electrical activity in the brain.
The term "seizure" is often used interchangeably with "convulsion." Convulsions occur when a person's body shakes rapidly and uncontrollably. During convulsions, the person's muscles contract and relax repeatedly. There are many different types of seizures. Some have mild symptoms without shaking.
Considerations: It may be hard to tell if someone is having a seizure. Some seizures only cause a person to have staring spells. These may go unnoticed.
Specific symptoms depend on what part of the brain is involved. Symptoms occur suddenly and may include:
Brief blackout followed by a period of confusion (the person cannot remember for a short time)
Changes in behavior such as picking at one's clothing
Drooling or frothing at the mouth
Grunting and snorting
Loss of bladder or bowel control
Mood changes such as sudden anger, unexplainable fear, panic, joy, or laughter
Shaking of the entire body
Tasting a bitter or metallic flavor
Temporary stop in breathing
Uncontrollable muscle spasms with twitching and jerking limbs
Symptoms may stop after a few seconds or minutes, or continue for up to 15 minutes. They rarely continue longer.
The person may have warning symptoms before the attack, such as:
Fear or anxiety
Vertigo (feeling as if you are spinning or moving)
Visual symptoms (such as flashing bright lights, spots, or wavy lines before the eyes)
Causes Seizures of all types are caused by disorganized and sudden electrical activity in the brain.
Brain injury that occurs to the baby during labor or childbirth
Brain problems that occur before birth (congenital brain defects)
Brain tumor (rare)
Fever (particularly in young children)
Heat illness (heat intolerance)
Phenylketonuria (PKU), which can cause seizures in infants
Street drugs, such as angel dust (PCP), cocaine, amphetamines
Toxemia of pregnancy
Toxin buildup in the body due to liver or kidney failure
Very high blood pressure (malignant hypertension)
Venomous bites and stings (snake bite)
Withdrawal from alcohol or certain medicines after using for a long time
Sometimes no cause can be found. This is called idiopathic seizures. They are usually seen in children and young adults, but can occur at any age. There may be a family history of epilepsy or seizures. If seizures continue repeatedly after the underlying problem is treated, the condition is called epilepsy.
Home Care Most seizures stop by themselves. But during a seizure, the person can be hurt or injured.
When a seizure occurs, the main goal is to protect the person from injury:
Try to prevent a fall. Lay the person on the ground in a safe area. Clear the area of furniture or other sharp objects.
Cushion the person's head.
Loosen tight clothing, especially around the neck.
Turn the person on the side. If vomiting occurs, this helps make sure that the vomit is not inhaled into the lungs.
Look for a medical ID bracelet with seizure instructions.
Stay with the person until he or she recovers, or until professional medical help arrives.
Things friends and family members should not do:
Do not restrain (try to hold down) the person.
Do not place anything between the person's teeth during a seizure (including your fingers).
Do not move the person unless they are in danger or near something hazardous.
Do not try to make the person stop convulsing. They have no control over the seizure and are not aware of what is happening at the time.
Do not give the person anything by mouth until the convulsions have stopped and the person is fully awake and alert.
Do not start CPR unless the seizure has clearly stopped and the person is not breathing or has no pulse.
If a baby or child has a seizure during a high fever, cool the child slowly with lukewarm water. Do not place the child in a cold bath. You can give the child acetaminophen (Tylenol) once he or she is awake, especially if the child has had fever convulsions before.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Call 911 or your local emergency number if:
This is the first time the person has had a seizure.
A seizure lasts more than 2 to 5 minutes.
The person does not awaken or have normal behavior after a seizure.
Another seizure starts soon after a seizure ends.
The person had a seizure in water.
The person is pregnant, injured, or has diabetes.
The person does not have a medical ID bracelet (instructions explaining what to do).
There is anything different about this seizure compared to the person's usual seizures.
Report all seizures to the person's health care provider. The doctor may need to adjust or change the person's medications.