Epilepsy is a chronic disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. Finding the right treatment plan can be challenging, but it is equally important to know how to handle a seizure if one occurs. A seizure can be a frightening experience not only for the person who has the seizure but also for those around them. In this article, we will go over a few things you can do during an epilepsy attack that will help keep you or your loved one safe.
What is epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes seizures. Seizures happen when there is a sudden burst of electrical activity in the brain. These bursts can cause changes in feelings, behavior, and body movements. Seizures can occur as a result of a brain injury, infection, tumor, or genetic disorder. In some cases, the cause of epilepsy is unknown.
Types of seizures
Focal seizures, also known as partial seizures, occur in just one area of the brain. They can be simple or complex. Simple focal seizures do not affect a person’s awareness, while complex focal seizures affect both behavior and awareness.
Generalized seizures involve both sides of the brain. They can cause a loss of consciousness, convulsions, or confusion. These seizures can be divided into several types:
- Absence seizures
- Tonic seizures
- Clonic seizures
- Tonic-clonic seizures
What to do during a seizure
Seizures can be scary, but it’s important to remain calm and follow these steps:
Protect the person from injury
Move any sharp or dangerous objects away from the person having the seizure. You can also place a cushion or a soft object under their head to prevent it from hitting the ground.
Do not restrain the person
Do not try to hold down the person having the seizure or put anything in their mouth. This could cause injury and is not helpful.
Time the seizure
Take note of the time of the seizure. If it lasts more than five minutes or if it’s followed by another seizure, call for emergency medical help.
Help them breathe
If the person is lying down, turn them onto their side to help with breathing. If they are sitting, gently support their head to prevent it from falling forward.
Stay calm and reassuring
Speak calmly and reassure the person that they are safe. Do not leave them alone until they have fully recovered and are alert.
What to do after a seizure
After a seizure, a person may feel confused, disoriented, or tired. Here are a few things you can do to help them:
Talk to the person in a calm and reassuring voice. Help them reorient themselves by telling them where they are and what has happened.
Check for injuries
Check the person for injuries sustained during the seizure. If any injuries are present, seek medical help.
Offer support and encouragement to help the person recover from the seizure.
While it’s not always possible to prevent seizures, there are a few steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of having an attack:
Take medication as prescribed
If your doctor has prescribed medication to help control seizures, take it as scheduled. Do not skip doses or stop taking medication without consulting your doctor.
Identify any triggers that may cause seizures, such as stress, alcohol, or lack of sleep, and try to avoid them.
Get enough sleep
Getting enough sleep is essential for overall health and can also help prevent seizures. Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
Eat a healthy diet
Eating a well-balanced diet can help keep your body and brain healthy. Talk to your doctor or a nutritionist about any dietary changes that may help prevent seizures.
While epilepsy can be a difficult condition to manage, it is possible to lead a full and active life with the right treatment plan. Knowing how to handle a seizure is essential for the safety and wellbeing of those affected by epilepsy. Remember to remain calm, protect the person from injury, time the seizure, help them breathe, and offer support.
Common questions about epilepsy
- What are the most common types of epilepsy?
- Can epilepsy be cured?
- Can stress trigger seizures?
- Is it safe to drive with epilepsy?
- What should I do if I witness someone having a seizure?
Some of the most common types of epilepsy include focal seizures, generalized seizures, tonic-clonic seizures, and absence seizures.
There is currently no cure for epilepsy, but it can be managed with medication, lifestyle changes, and other treatments.
Yes, stress can be a trigger for seizures in some people. Identifying and managing stress levels can help reduce the likelihood of having a seizure.
It depends. In some cases, people with epilepsy may be able to drive if their seizures are well-controlled. However, laws and regulations regarding driving with epilepsy vary by state and country.
Stay calm, protect the person from injury, time the seizure, help them breathe, and offer support. After the seizure, help the person reorient themselves and check for any injuries.
1. Epilepsy Foundation. (n.d.). What is epilepsy? Retrieved from https://www.epilepsy.com/learn/about-epilepsy-basics/what-epilepsy
2. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2019, December). Epilepsy: Hope Through Research. Retrieved from https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Hope-Through-Research/Epilepsy-Hope-Through-Research
3. Mayo Clinic. (2019, November 12). Epilepsy. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/epilepsy/symptoms-causes/syc-20350093