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Epilepsy: Safety During a Seizure

Safety during a seizure

Let family and friends know what to expect and how to react when you have a seizure. This helps keep them calm and you safe. All seizures should be treated with care, but tonic-clonic seizures (seizures during which you lose consciousness) require more attention. Here are some pointers for loved ones.

What to know

Seizures typically last less than 3 minutes, but it will feel like it is longer. People recover safely from most seizures. During a tonic-clonic seizure, the person may appear to stop breathing or turn slightly blue. This may be scary for you, but try to stay calm. Afterward, the person may be tired, confused, and achy. He or she may need to sleep for several hours to fully recover.

Young woman lying on floor on her side having seizure. Older woman is placing pillow beneath young woman's head. Older man is moving chair away from young woman.

What to do

During any seizure, stay with the person until it is over. Note the time when the seizure starts and ends. Don’t try to stop the seizure. During a tonic-clonic seizure, also do the following:

  • Move hard or sharp objects out of the way.

  • Lay the person on a flat surface and turn them on their side.

  • Place a flat, soft object under their head.

  • Don’t try to restrain the person. Both of you could get hurt.

  • Don’t put anything in the person’s mouth. He or she cannot swallow his or her tongue, and you risk breaking his or her teeth or being bitten.

  • Don’t give the person medicines during a seizure, unless you’ve been trained by a healthcare provider.

  • Speak quietly to the person as he or she recovers.

.There is no need to call 911 if the patient has a well-established cause of the seizures (like epilepsy) and the seizure is very typical. If in doubt or the person's condition is unknown, call 911.

Call 911 if the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes, there is no conscious interval between 2 seizures, or several seizures happen in a row. These events could represent status epilepticus, a medical emergency. Here are some other causes of seizures and situations that need immediate medical attention: 

  • If the person has diabetes

  • If the person has any brain infections

  • If the person has heat exhaustion

  • If the person is pregnant 

  • Poisoning is known or suspected

  • The person has low blood sugar

  • A seizure happens after or during a high fever

  • A head injury immediately after or within a few days after the injury happened

  • Multiple seizures happen in a short period of time

  • The person stops breathing

  • A seizure that happens in water

  • The person hit his or her head during a seizure and becomes difficult to arouse, is vomiting or complains of blurry vision

  • It is the first time a seizure happens

  • It is different than the typical seizures for that person

  • The person is difficult to arouse after the seizure

  • Alcohol or drug abuse 

  • Alcohol or drug withdrawal

 

 

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