How to Handle a Seizure

There isn’t much you can do to stop a seizure once it starts but you can help protect someone from harm during one.

Types of Seizures

Some are more dangerous than others.

Focal seizures -The person with epilepsy not be aware of what's happening. He/she might seem to zone out or stare at nothing as the seizure becomes complex. When it's over, they won’t remember a thing.

Generalized seizures - The most well-known type falls in this group, better known as a grand mal seizure. These are frightening to watch and can be an emergency.

Any generalized seizure can be dangerous because the person is unaware of the surroundings and can't protect herself from harm. The uncontrolled thrashing raises the chances of injury. This type is most likely to result in a trip to the emergency room.

First Aid

It's all about taking precautions. You’re most likely to need it for a generalized tonic-clinic seizure.

  • Keep other people out of the way.
  • Clear hard or sharp objects away.
  • Don't try to hold your friend down or stop his/her movements.
  • Place him/her on her side, to help keep her airway clear.
  • Look at your watch at the start of the seizure, so you can time its length.
  • Don't put anything in your friend’s mouth. Contrary to a popular myth, you can’t swallow your tongue during a seizure. But if you put an object in his/her mouth, he/she could damage teeth or bite you.

Remember, this type probably isn’t an emergency, although it may look like one. Milder seizures, like a bit of staring or shaking of the arms or legs aren’t emergencies either. Still, you should gently guide the person away from threats, like traffic or stairs.