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    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

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Neil Lava, MD on July 20, 2014
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