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Epilepsy and First Aid for Seizures

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What Should I Do if a Child Has a Seizure?

Different types of seizures may require different responses. See below for a breakdown of the most common types of seizures and what to do for the child in each case.

Seizure TypeWhat to Do
Generalized Tonic-Clonic or Grand Mal (Loss of Awareness)
  • Move child away from hard, sharp, or hot objects. Put something soft under child's head. Turn child on one side to keep airway clear.
  • Do not put anything in child's mouth or give liquids or medicines during or immediately after the seizure.
  • Do not try to hold the child's tongue; it cannot be swallowed.
  • Do not restrain movement.
  • Reassure your child when consciousness returns.
  • Usually it isn't necessary to call 911 if the child has a confirmed diagnosis of epilepsy, and the seizure ends after a minute or two.
  • Call for emergency aid if this is the child's first seizure, if multiple seizures occur, if the seizure lasts longer than five minutes, or if the child is injured or unresponsive
Absence or Petit Mal (Loss of Awareness)
  • Observe the child carefully. Reassure the child if he or she is frightened or confused.
  • Try to count and record episodes.
Partial Seizure (No Loss of Awareness)
  • Observe the child carefully. Reassure the child if he or she is frightened or confused.
  • If the seizure becomes a convulsion or generalized seizure, follow the instruction indicated above.
Partial Seizures (Loss of Awareness)
  • Speak calmly to the child and other children around him or her.
  • If the child is walking, guide him or her gently to a safe place.
  • Stay close until the seizure has ended and the child is completely aware of where he or she is and can respond normally when spoken to.
Myoclonic Seizures (Loss of Awareness)
  • Speak calmly to the child and other children around him or her.
  • If the child is walking, guide him or her gently to a safe place.
  • Stay close until the seizure has ended and the child is completely aware of where he or she is and can respond normally when spoken to.
  • If the seizure is a first occurrence, a medical check-up is recommended.
Myoclonic Jerks (No Loss of Awareness)
  • Reassure the child and check to see if he or she got hurt from the fall.
  • If the seizure is a first occurrence, a medical check-up is recommended.
Atonic
  • Comfort the child and check to see if he or she is hurt.
  • A medical check-up is recommended.
Infantile Spasms
  • Look for clusters of attacks.
  • Comfort the child when the attacks occur.
  • Prompt medical attention is needed.


 

 

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Richard Senelick, MD on May 25, 2014
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