Seizures – How to Respond

Seizures occur more often than you might think; one in 10 people will suffer a seizure in their lifetime. A seizure can be scary, but just like it’s important to know basic CPR, you should also know how to help someone who is having a seizure.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers these steps to help a person who is having any type of seizure:

  1. Stay with person and keep them safe from injury until the seizure ends. After it ends, help the person sit in a safe place. Once they are alert and can talk, tell them what happened in plain terms.
  2. Comfort person and speak calmly.
  3. Keep yourself and other people calm.
  4. Check to see if person is wearing a medical bracelet or other emergency information.
  5. Offer to call a taxi, friend or relative to make sure person makes it home safely.

Generalized Seizures

For persons having a generalized seizure with muscle stiffening, jerking, falling or loss of awareness, previously known as a grand mal seizure, according to the CDC, here’s how you can help:

  1. Ease person to the floor.
  2. Turn person gently onto one side, which will help breathing.
  3. Clear area around person of anything hard or sharp to prevent injury.
  4. Place something soft and flat, like a folded jacket, under his or her head.
  5. Take off eyeglasses.
  6. Loosen ties or anything around the neck that may make it difficult to breathe.
  7. Time the seizure. Call 911 if seizure lasts longer than five minutes.

Do not hold person down; do not put anything in their mouth; do not give mouth-to-mouth breaths; and do not offer food or water until person is fully alert.

Should I call 911?

Seizures are not usually a medical emergency, but you should call 911 if one of the following happens:

  1. The person has never had a seizure before.
  2. The person has difficulty breathing or waking after the seizure.
  3. The seizure lasts longer than five minutes.
  4. The person has another seizure soon after the first one.
  5. The person is hurt during seizure.
  6. The seizure happens in water.
  7. The person has a health condition like diabetes, heart disease or is pregnant.

Learn more about epilepsy care and seizure treatment.

Memorial Medical Center is home to the only Level 3 adult Epilepsy Center in Springfield and is accredited by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers.

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