Best First Aid Tips and Treatment for Seizures

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By Apollo 24|7, Published on- 31 October 2022

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Seeing someone have a seizure right in front of you can be a very frightening experience. However, just like all difficult situations, it’s always wise to be prepared. Around 1 out of 10 people may have a seizure during their lifetime. This means that seizures are not that rare and you might one day come across someone during or after a seizure.

While most seizures are not really an emergency and stop on their own, knowing how you can keep that person as safe as possible can be of great help. However, before learning about the first-aid measures you can take, it is important to find out about the different types of seizures.

What Are the Different Types of Seizures?

Some seizures are more serious and dangerous than others. They can be majorly divided into two categories:

1. Focal Onset Seizures

These seizures begin in a single part of the brain. In such cases, the person’s arm might start moving or his/her face might start twitching. And despite being aware and awake, he/she can't control it. Also, he/she may not remember anything afterwards.

2. Generalised Seizures

These seizures involve multiple areas of the brain at the same time. The most well-known kind of seizure that falls in this category is the generalised tonic-clonic seizure, which is also called grand mal seizure. These often constitute an emergency.

What Does a Grand Mal Seizure Look Like?

Grand mal seizures or generalised tonic-clonic seizures follow a set sequence of events:

  1. First, the person having a grand mal seizure becomes unresponsive. He/she doesn’t react to being called or having a hand waved in his/her face. Then, he/she suddenly collapses.
  2. His/her muscles clench and he/she becomes as rigid as a board for a few seconds.
  3. Then, his/her body convulses in a series of jerking movements for a few seconds or minutes.
  4. Eventually, he/she stops convulsing and regains consciousness. He/she may be a little disoriented and confused for a while.

First-aid Tips for All Types of Seizures

These are some basic tips for helping someone having any type of seizure:

  1. Make sure you stay with the person until his/her seizure ends and he/she is fully awake. After the seizure ends, assist the person in sitting in a safe place. Once he/she is alert enough to communicate, let him/her know what happened in simple terms.
  2. Make sure to time the seizure. This will help you determine whether or not emergency help is needed.
  3. Stay calm and comfort the person as much as possible.
  4. If he/she tries to walk around, let him/her walk in a safe, enclosed space if possible.
  5. Check to see if the person has any emergency information on him.
  6. Call a taxi or the person’s friends or family to make sure he/she reaches home safely.

First-aid Tips for Generalised Tonic-Clonic (Grand Mal) Seizures

A generalized seizure is significantly more dangerous as the person is rendered unaware of his/her surroundings, making him/her unable to defend against harm. In case of grand mal seizures, uncontrolled thrashing movements increase the risk of injury. These seizures are more likely to lead to hospitalisation.

Here are some first-aid tips to take care of a person having a generalised tonic-clonic seizure.

  1. Gently ease the person having a seizure to the floor.
  2. Turn the person on one side to help him/her breathe.
  3. Do not try to restrain the person, hold him/her down or restrict his/her movements.
  4. Make sure that the area around the person is cleared of any sharp or hard objects to prevent any injuries.
  5. Cushion the person’s head with something flat and soft like a folded jacket.
  6. Do not give mouth-to-mouth breaths to a person having a seizure. People usually resume breathing on their own once it's over.
  7. Remove the person’s eyeglasses, if he/she has any.
  8. Loosen his/her tie or anything else he/she has around his/her neck to make it easier for him/her to breathe.
  9. During a seizure, do not put anything in his/her mouth to prevent injury to teeth or jaw.
  10. Do not offer food or water to the person until he/she regains full alertness.

When to Call for Help in Seizures?

Not all seizures require emergency medical assistance. It is essential to know when it’s the right time to call for help. Here are some signs that emergency help is needed:

  1. The seizure lasts for longer than 5 minutes
  2. Difficulty breathing
  3. Repeated seizures
  4. The seizure occurs in water
  5. The person does not return to his/her usual state
  6. The person is injured, sick, or pregnant
  7. The person asks for medical help
  8. The person seizes for the first time

Now that you know the best way to deal with a person having a seizure, keep these tips in mind at all times and you just might be able to help a person in need.

Frequently Asked Questions About First Aid for Seizures

1. What signs should you look for to identify a seizure?

General warning signs or symptoms of a seizure can include:

  • Jerking movements of the legs and arms
  • Zoning out or staring
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Stiffening of the body
  • Stopping breathing or breathing problems 
  • Falling suddenly
  • Losing control of bowel or bladder

2. Do you foam at the mouth during a seizure?

A full-scale epileptic seizure can cause facial twitching, violent jerking of the limbs, and foaming at the mouth, which is a result of saliva being blown through clenched teeth.

3. What causes seizures?

Seizures can occur after a closed head injury, stroke, or infection like meningitis. Often, the cause of seizures is unknown.

4. How long do seizures usually last?

Usually, seizures last from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Any seizure that lasts longer than 5 minutes is considered a medical emergency.

5. Do people remember seizures?

In the case of focal aware seizures (FAS), the person is aware and usually knows that something is happening. In such cases, he/she usually remembers the seizure afterwards.


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Medically Reviewed by Dr. Dhanunjay Reddy B


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