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How to Help Someone Experiencing an Epileptic Seizure

How to Help Someone Experiencing an Epileptic Seizure

Watching someone experience a seizure can be a frightening thing. Also, such episodes, medically known as epilepsy, are not uncommon as 50 million people worldwide battle it. So, is there something that you can do to provide relief to someone going through a seizure? Yes! You can actually act as the first responder and prevent further damage.

In order to do that, you should be aware of what exactly epilepsy means, its symptoms, and types. Let’s get started.

Understanding Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a common neurological disorder where the person experiences recurrent seizures varying from mild jerks to severe convulsions. In half the cases, the main reason for occurrence is established is a lack of oxygen supply to the brain. The other reasons that can be held responsible for these convulsions are a brain injury, an infection, a tumor, or other genetic reasons.

Symptoms of a seizure

These seizures vary from person to person, however, certain common signs can be found in every patient. They are:

  • Temporary confusion
  • Staring spell
  • Uncontrollable jerking of  arms and legs
  • Loss of consciousness or awareness
  • Experiencing fear, anxiety, or deja vu

Types of seizures

Seizures are sudden, uncontrolled electrical disturbances in the brain that can manifest in various ways. They can range from mild, momentary lapses in awareness to severe convulsions. There are different types of seizures, broadly categorized into focal (partial) seizures and generalized seizures.

  1. Focal seizures — these affect only a part of the brain. There are two broad types:
  • Seizures without loss of consciousness that alter the person\’s emotions or affect their way of looking at things, how they smell, feel, or taste.
  • Seizures with impaired awareness also known as complex partial seizures that include staring spells with repetitive movements like rubbing of hands, walking in circles, chewing, or swallowing.
  1. Generalized seizures — involve the entire brain and can be further classified into:
  • Absence seizures occur generally in kids and involve staring into space, indulging in subtle movements, and can also result in loss of awareness.
  • Tonic seizures are responsible for muscle stiffness in the back, arms, and legs resulting in falls.
  • Atonic seizures, also known as drop seizures cause loss of muscle control resulting in sudden collapse.
  • Clonic seizures are characterized by rhythmic or repeated jerking of the neck, face, and arms.
  • Myoclonic seizures are responsible for sudden and brief jerks in the arms or legs.
  • Tonic-clonic seizures are severe in nature causing abrupt loss of consciousness accompanied by body stiffness, loss of bladder control, and sometimes biting of the tongue.

Causes of seizures

While epilepsy is the most common cause of a seizure, let’s take a look at some other factors too:

  • High fever (leading to febrile convulsions, seen in infants and young children)
  • Head trauma
  • Brain infections (meningitis or encephalitis)
  • Brain tumors
  • Stroke.
  • Imbalances in electrolytes or blood sugar, or other metabolic disorders
  • Alcohol and/or drug withdrawal

What to Do When Someone Is Having a Seizure

Almost every kind of seizure has a serious fallout. In order to save your loved ones from further harm, we have listed a sequence of actions that you can undertake before professionals take over.

  • Stay calm
  • To prevent the person from choking, roll him/her over onto their sid
    • Provide a cushion for the person\’s head
  • To make breathing easy, loosen the collar of the person
    • Grip the jaw gently and tilt the person’s head slightly backwards
    • This will allow a more thorough and clear airway
  • Gently turn the person onto their side to help clear the airway and prevent any potential choking on saliva or vomit
  • Avoid restraining the person. That should only happen if the convulsions can lead to bodily harm
  • Never put anything in the mouth of the person. It is an absolute myth that people with seizures choke on their own tongue. 
  • Create a safe space by clearing the surroundings. They might choke on foreign objects that include water and medication.
  • Avoid shaking the person. That is not helpful in any way. Also, don\’t shout. Stay calm.
    • Make sure there are no sharp or pointed objects near the person
  • Time the seizure and note the triggers (if possible)
    • This  will prove crucial for the professionals who will take over after your first aid
  • Stay by their side till the seizure ends
  • If the seizure occurs in a public place, ask the bystanders to give the person space as he/she will be disoriented, tired, irritated, even embarrassed

Every seizure cannot be dealt with using the above-mentioned points. There will be situations when you will need professional help especially when the affected person has a prior ailment. Do not waste time in calling for help if you are facing the below-listed circumstances:

  • The person is diabetic
  • The person is pregnant
  • The seizure occurred in water
  • The episode lasts for more than 5 minutes
  • There is no sign of consciousness after the seizure is over
  • The afflicted is not breathing once the seizure stops
  • There are signs of high fever
  • Before regaining consciousness, another seizure begins
  • The person endures an injury during the episode
  • If this, according to your knowledge, is the first-ever episode the person has had

Emergency Numbers in India: 102 or 108

Post-Seizure Tips

Once the seizure has subsided, here’s what you can do to help the individual

  • Offer comfort and reassurance by helping them understand what has happened
  • Respect their privacy and give them space to come to terms with the episode
  • Let them regain their composure at their pace
  • Encourage them to seek medical help (especially if the seizure occurred for the first or is happening too often)

Epilepsy Clinic at Plexus

If the above steps are followed in letter and spirit, it can save the person from enduring a lot of pain as well as stress.

At Plexus’ Epilepsy Clinic, we offer customized and advanced treatment programs for epilepsy.

Epilepsy, as a whole, can be controlled, managed, and mitigated too by Stem Cell Therapy — a non-surgical procedure where stem cells, which have the capacity to regenerate, replace the damaged cells in the body.

Read more about Stem Cell Therapy for Epilepsy here.

Or reach out to Team Plexus today.

WhatsApp +91 89048 42087

Call +91 78159 64668 (Hyderabad) | +91 82299 99888 (Bangalore)


How do you stop a seizure when you feel it coming on?

You cannot stop a seizure. However, if you can recognise the triggers and symptoms, drop everything you are doing, and sit down or preferably lie down on your side. Focus on managing triggers, taking prescribed medications, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle to reduce the likelihood.

How do you deal with a seizure alone?

Firstly, create a safe environment by removing potential hazards (sharp objects), and laying down to minimize injury. If your seizure has lasted longer than five minutes or if another follows immediately, call for medical assistance as you as you can.

What 2 things should you never do when a person is having a seizure?

Do not restrain them. Do not put objects, even medication, into their mouth. Both can cause harm and injuries.

What exactly causes a seizure?

Seizures may be caused by various factors, including epilepsy, head trauma, brain infections or tumors, or genetic factors. 

What are 3 symptoms of seizures?

Convulsions (involuntary muscle movements), altered consciousness, and repetitive movements are the three typical symptoms of a seizure. Depending on the type of seizure, these symptoms can vary in intensity and duration.

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