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Seizures

Advice on dealing with Seizures


The following tips will help to ensure your safety if you have a seizure.

- Always carry medical identification. If an emergency occurs, knowledge of your seizure disorder can help the people around you maintain your safety and provide the appropriate treatment.

- Make sure your family, friends and co-workers know what to do if you have a seizure. (See below.)

- Avoid potential dangers of high places or moving machinery at home, school or work if you have active seizures. Though there is less risk if your seizures are under control, your attention should focus on the specific risks of certain activities (such as mowing, working around farm machinery, hot appliances, etc.).

- It is important for you to remain active, but participate in sports and other activities with caution. Avoid potentially dangerous activities, such as bathing, swimming, gymnastics or mountain climbing without someone near by. Have another person with you who knows your seizure risk and is trained in life-saving techniques. Activities such as baseball, bike riding, canoeing, horseback riding or hockey can be made safer by wearing helmets and/or life jackets and by having another person with you.

- If you are prescribed anticonvulsant medication, do not suddenly stop taking it or change the dosage without consulting your doctor. The type of anticonvulsant medication you are prescribed depends on the type of epilepsy you have, and the dose that is prescribed especially for you according to your weight, age, gender and other factors.

- Be alert to the risks of possible drug interactions between your anticonvulsant medications and other medications you may take, including over-the-counter drugs. Always call your doctor or pharmacist if you are not sure what interactions could occur before taking any medication.

- Avoid alcohol, as it can interfere with the effectiveness of your medication.

What Should I Do for a Person Who Has a Seizure?

Loosen clothing around the person's neck.

Do not try to hold the person down or restrain him or her, this can result in injury.

Do not insert any objects in the person's mouth; this can also cause injury.

Reassure bystanders who may be panicking and ask them to give the person room.

Remove sharp objects (glasses, furniture and other objects) from around the person to prevent injury.

After the seizure, it is helpful to lay the person on his or her side to maintain an open airway and prevent the person from inhaling any secretions.

After many seizures, there may be confusion for a period of time and the person should not be left alone.

In many cases, especially if the person is known to have epilepsy, it is not necessary to call an ambulance. If the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes, or if another seizure begins soon after the first, or if the person cannot be awakened after the movements have stopped, an ambulance should be called. If you are concerned that something else may be wrong, or the person has another medical condition such as heart disease or diabetes, you should contact a doctor immediately.

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 Type
What 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 an ambulance if it is known that the child has epilepsy, and the seizure ends after a minute or two.

- Call for emergency aid if this is the child's first seizure of unknown cause, if multiple seizures occur, if the seizure lasts longer than five minutes, or if the child seems sick, 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.
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.
Myoclinic 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 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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