First aid for epilepsy is basically very simple. It keeps the person safe until the seizure stops naturally by itself.
When providing seizure first aid for generalized tonic clonic (grand mal) seizures, these are the key things to remember:
- Keep calm and reassure other people who may be nearby.
- Don’t hold the person down or try to stop his movements.
- Time the seizure with your watch.
- Clear the area around the person of anything hard or sharp.
- Loosen ties or anything around the neck that may make breathing difficult.
- Put something flat and soft, like a folded jacket, under the head.
- Turn him or her gently onto one side. This will help keep the airway clear.
- Do not try to force the mouth open with any hard implement or with fingers. A person having a seizure CANNOT swallow his tongue. Efforts to hold the tongue down can injure teeth or jaw.
When providing seizure first aid for complex partial seizures, these are the key things to remember:
- Stay calm, reassure others
- Track time
- Check for medical I.D.
- Do not restrain
- Gently direct away from hazards
- Don’t expect the person to obey verbal instructions
- Stay until fully alert and aware
- If seizure lasts 5 minutes beyond what is routine or another seizure begins before full consciousness is achieved
An un-complicated seizure in someone who has epilepsy is not a medical emergency, even though it looks like one. It stops naturally after a few minutes without ill effects. The average person is able to continue about his business after a rest period, and may need only limited assistance, or no assistance at all, in getting home. In other circumstances, an ambulance should be called. An Emergency Room is needed when these conditions exist, immediate medical attention is necessary:
- Brain infections
- Heat exhaustion
- High fever
- Head injury