Epilepsy Seizure: What to Do in an Emergency
Types of Seizures, Degrees of Danger continued...
If you witness someone with epilepsy having a generalized tonic-clonic seizure, remember that it's probably not an emergency, although it may look like one. Keep these first-aid tips in mind:
- Keep other people out of the way.
- Clear hard or sharp objects away from around the person.
- Don't try to hold the person down, or stop the movements.
- Place the person on his or her side, to help keep the airway clear.
- Look at your watch at the start of the seizure, to time its length.
- Don't put anything in the person's mouth. Contrary to a popular misconception, it is not possible for a person to swallow his tongue during a seizure. However, placing an object in the mouth of a person who is having a seizure may cause the patient harm or injury. The patient may experience a dental injury or you may harm yourself by having your finger bit.
Milder seizures -- like brief periods of staring or shaking of the arms or legs -- also are not an emergency. You should, however, gently guide a person away from any surrounding danger. They may be in a state similar to sleepwalking, and need protection from threats around them, like traffic or stairs.
Seizures and the Emergency Room