DIY: Dealing with seizures

Stages 1 and 2. Protect and then put in Recovery Position

Although they aren’t terribly common, sometime in your life you may come across someone having a seizure, be it due to shock, epilepsy, another disorder, or fever.

Because of their extreme damage both to the brain and physically, you need to know how to assist the person in need. This article will teach you how to deal with someone who is seizing depending on their symptoms and a simple checklist.

A seizure is an out-of-control misfire between nerve cells in the brain. Normal brain functions are impaired with a seizure.

Things known to cause seizures are:

  • High fevers in children. This kind of seizure is called a fever fit. A temperature higher than 102 degrees F can set off a fever fit. High fevers are the most common cause of seizures in children ages six months to four years. These seizures are generally harmless.
  • Epilepsy, a brain disorder. Seizure is the most common symptom of epilepsy.
  • Brain injury, tumor or stroke.
  • Electric shock.
  • Heat stroke.
  • Poisons.
  • Infections.
  • Reactions or overdoses to medicines or drugs.
  • Reye’s Syndrome.
  • Snakebites.
  • Vaccinations.
  • Breath-holding.

Sometimes the cause of a seizure is not known.

Seizures fall in two general groups: general and partial. A partial seizure affects small areas of the brain. A general seizure affects the whole brain and can cause loss of consciousness and/or convulsions. This is the type most people associate with a seizure. This type of seizure is also called a tonic-colic or a grand mal seizure. First aid can be helpful for this type of seizure.

Symptoms of convulsive seizures are:

  • Crying out
  • Falling down
  • Losing consciousness
  • Entire body stiffening
  • Uncontrollable jerks and twitches

The sufferer’s muscles relax after the seizure. He or she may lose bowel and bladder control and may be confused, sleepy and have a headache.

Most seizures last from one to five minutes. A fever fit can last from 1-10 minutes.

Fever Fit Prevention – Usually in children

The best way to prevent a fever fit is to reduce the fever fast. This is especially important for a child who has had a fever fit in the past. He or she is more likely to have another one with future fevers. When your child has a fever:

  • Dress him or her in light-weight clothes or remove most of his or her clothes. Don’t use more than a top sheet or one blanket on your child when he or she sleeps.
  • Apply cold washcloths to your child’s forehead and neck. Sponge the rest of his or her skin with cold water. Don’t use rubbing alcohol.
  • Give the dose of acetaminophen the label states for your child’s weight or age. [Note: Do not give aspirin or any medication that has salicylates to anyone 19 years of age or younger unless your doctor tells you to.
  • Continue trying to reduce the fever until it is 101ø F or less.
  • Ask your child’s doctor about suppositories that lower fevers if your child has had a fever fit in the past. Using one at the first sign of a fever may prevent a seizure.

First Aid Protocols: Questions to Ask


Has the person stopped breathing?
If yes, seek emergency care and practice rescue breathing until they arrive, if no, consider the questions below.
Does the seizure occur with another serious problem such as?

  • Head injury
  • Heat stroke
  • Electric shock
  • Poisoning
If yes, seek emergency care. If no, check for these other signs.
Are any of the following also present?

  • The seizure lasts longer than five minutes.
  • The person has a second seizure soon after the first one.
  • The person has a hard time breathing.
  • The person is pregnant.

If yes, follow the instructions below.

Give First Aid for Convulsive Seizures and see a doctor.First Aid for Convulsive Seizures:

  • Stay calm
  • Protect the victim from injury. Cushion the head with a soft object such as pillow, coat or blanket.
  • Move sharp objects out of the way.
  • Loosen tight clothes around the neck.
  • Place the person on his or her side.
  • Clear the mouth of vomit if there is any.
  • Do not try to hold the victim down.
  • Do not put a spoon or anything into the mouth to prevent tongue biting.
  • Do not give anything to eat or drink.
  • Do not give medication.
  • Do not throw water on the victim’s face.

Note how many minutes the seizure(s) lasts and observe the symptoms that take place so you can report these to the doctor.

Also, remember not to embarrass the victim, but offer help once the seizure is over.

Children. Is this?

  • Your child’s first seizure
  • A seizure without a fever
  • A seizure in a child younger than six months or older than four years old
Give First Aid before seeing a doctor and then see a doctor.First Aid Before Seeing Doctor:

  • Prevent injury to the child during the seizure:
    • Keep the child from falling and hitting his or her head on a table edge or any sharp object.
    • Cushion the child’s head.
    • Move furniture, toys and such out of the way.
  • Make sure his or her air passage is open. Gently pull on the jaw as you extend the neck backwards.
  • Roll the child on the side to allow saliva to drain from the mouth.
  • Following the seizure, the child will likely be sleepy and not remember what has happened. This is normal. Consult your child’s doctor and follow instructions.

Dress the child in light, loose-fitting clothing and put him or her to sleep in a cool room.

First Aid – Adults

Most seizures in people who have epilepsy and in children with high fevers do not need medical care. If you see someone having a convulsive seizure without other problems, perform the actions in, “First Aid for Convulsive Seizures” listed above. (A person with epilepsy may wear a medic alert bracelet or necklace with “epilepsy” written on it or he or she may have epilepsy written on a card or driver’s license in his or her wallet or purse. Look for one.)

Also, if the seizure is due to a fever, lower the person’s temperature as soon as the seizure stops:

  • Sponge the body with lukewarm water.
  • Do not use rubbing alcohol.
  • Do not use ice because it drops the temperature too fast.
  • Do not put the person in a bathtub.