What To Do If A Person Gets An Epilepsy Attack In Front Of You?

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Getting a fit or seeing someone experiencing one can be worrying. While a fit or seizure episode does not always signify epilepsy, it requires immediate medical attention. Epilepsy is a neurological condition of the brain that affects around 50 million people worldwide.

Epilepsy is characterized by recurrent seizures that are short episodes of involuntary movement that may involve a part (partial seizure) or the entire body (generalized seizure). Epileptic seizures are sometimes accompanied by loss of consciousness or bowel or bladder control.

What are the Causes and Types of Epilepsy?

Epileptic seizures arise due to excessive electrical discharge in a group of brain cells. Different brain parts can cause these electrical discharges; sometimes all at once. Epileptic seizures can vary in frequency.

There are two types of epilepsy:

  • Primary generalized seizures: Occurs due to an electrical discharge that involves both sides of the brain at once.
  • Partial seizures: Occurs due to an electrical discharge that is limited to one area of the brain.

The exact cause of epilepsy is difficult to pinpoint in about 70% of people. However, a few known epilepsy causes include:

  • Genetics
  • Brain infection
  • Stroke
  • Tumour
  • Head injury or trauma

A few factors that may increase a predisposed individual’s risk of developing an epileptic seizure are:

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of oxygen to the brain
  • Tumour or cyst
  • Stress
  • Insufficient food intake
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Failure to take anticonvulsant medications
  • Flashing or blinking lights

What are a Few Common Epilepsy Symptoms?

Seizures are the most common symptom of epilepsy. However, epilepsy symptoms vary from person to person and depending on the type of the condition.

1. Partial seizures

Alterations to taste, smell, touch, or hearing

  • Tingling in the limbs
  • Dizziness

Symptoms of complex partial seizures include:

  • Loss of consciousness or awareness
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Performing repetitive movements

2. Generalized seizures

Depending on the subtype, symptoms of generalized seizures may include:

  • Short loss of awareness
  • Staring blankly
  • Repetitive movements
  • Sudden stiffness in the arms of legs
  • Loss of muscle strength that may make the individual fall suddenly
  • Repeated jerky muscle movements of the face, neck, and arms
  • Twitching of arms and legs
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Biting of tongue
  • Shaking or stiffening of the body

How is Epilepsy Treated?

The treatment for epilepsy depends upon its type, severity, individual’s health, and response to initial therapy. Epilepsy treatment options include:

  • Anti-epilepsy medications
  • Using a device called the vagus nerve stimulator
  • Following a ketogenic diet
  • Brain surgery (if the individual is fit enough for it)

What To Do If a Person Gets an Epilepsy Attack in Front of You?

If you witness someone having an epilepsy attack, it is essential to stay calm and follow these steps:

  • Check if the person is in a safe place, away from any potential hazards.
  • Ease the person on the ground and put something soft under their head.
  • Loosen any tight clothing around the person's neck that may affect breathing.
  • Remove glasses if they are wearing one.
  • Do not attempt to stop the seizure by restraining the person or placing anything in their mouth.
  • Stay with the person until the seizure has ended and they are fully alert.

You should call emergency services if the person does not have a medical ID card or bracelet indicating epilepsy. The operator will be able to provide instructions on what to do next.

Key Takeaway

It is essential to understand that epilepsy is not always a medical emergency, and you cannot stop the seizure once it is underway. Providing first aid for seizures can be lifesaving.

For more information about epilepsy or the best way to manage or prevent it,

Consult An Apollo Neurologist


Medically reviewed by Dr Sonia Bhatt.



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