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How To Treat a Seizure

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Updated January 27, 2012

In most cases, seizures are not life-threatening and are relatively easy to manage. Most adolescent or adult seizure victims suffer from epilepsy. In some cases, seizures can be caused by other medical conditions. Be concerned if the seizure immediately follows an injury to the head, if the victim is pregnant, or if the victim has diabetes.

Seizures in children are often caused by high fever. Management for a febrile seizure may be different.

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Depends on the victim

Here's How:

  1. Stay Safe! As always, safety is the most important step. Follow universal precautions and wear personal protective equipment if available.

  2. Remain calm. Anxiety is contagious, but so is serenity. As long as you are calm, other bystanders will follow suit.

  3. Note the time. It's important to time the seizure from the beginning of convulsions to the end of convulsions. A seizure lasting more than five minutes will be treated differently than a shorter one. Seizures look very scary and unless a clock or watch is used, it can be easy to overestimate the duration of the seizure.

  4. Clear hard or sharp objects away from the vicinity of the victim. Seizures can be violent enough to injure a victim.

  5. Loosen tight clothing around the neck, especially ties or collars. These items may restrict breathing or block the airway.

  6. Pad under the head with a pillow or rolled-up jacket.

  7. If possible, roll the victim to his or her left side. This way, sputum or vomit will drain out of the mouth away from the airway. DO NOT PUT ANYTHING IN THE VICTIM'S MOUTH! Seizure victims do not swallow their tongues.

  8. If the seizure activity (convulsions) last more than five (5) minutes, call 911.

  9. After the seizure, the victim will slowly regain consciousness, if he or she does not begin to wake up within a few minutes, call 911.

  10. If the victim stops breathing after the seizure, call 911 and begin CPR.

Tips:

  1. According to the Epilepsy Foundation, Call 911 for seizures if:
    • the seizure happened in water
    • there is no way to determine the cause of the seizure (ID bracelet, etc.)
    • the victim is pregnant
    • the victim has diabetes
    • the victim is injured
    • the seizure lasts more than five (5) minutes
    • another seizure happens before the victim regains consciousness

  2. Also according to the Epilepsy Foundation, 911 does not need to be called if the victim is known to have epilepsy, the seizure ended in less than five minutes, the victim wakes up, and there are no signs of injury, physical distress, or pregnancy.

  3. For more information, visit the Epilepsy Foundation.
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