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What To Do When An Epileptic Seizure Occurs

An elderly man having a seizure


What should you do when an epileptic seizure occurs?

  1. Types of Seizures and What They Look Like
  2. Do Not Panic
  3. Move Them
  4. Cushion Their Head
  5. Loosen Any Tight Clothes
  6. Put Them Into Recovery Position
  7. Call an Ambulance
  8. Take Note Of The Happenings


It goes without saying that we should always be equipped when an emergency occurs. While no one wants an epileptic seizure to happen, never rule out the odds and possibilities of it — especially since it can happen to people of all ages. About 1 out of 10 people experience a seizure during his or her lifetime. Knowing what to do when an epileptic seizure occurs can make a huge difference and can even help you save a life.


Types of Seizures and What They Look Like

When an epileptic seizure occurs, you might be thinking that the first thing you should do is rush the person to the emergency room right away. Epileptic seizures vary, and while some are serious, there are also some that aren’t an emergency and end on their own. How you can effectively help someone throughout a seizure depends on what type of seizure they have and its severity. Here are the two main types and how you can distinguish them:


Focal Onset Seizures

These seizures begin in a single part of the brain. This is the most common type of seizure experienced by people with epilepsy. With focal onset seizures, a person is most likely awake. However, they will have no control over actions such as moving arms, face twitching, and zoning out. And, oftentimes, they won’t remember a thing afterward.


Generalized Seizures

On the other hand, generalized seizures involve multiple parts of the brain at once. Unlike focal onset seizures, these types of seizures are more frightening to watch and can be considered an emergency. Here is its sequence of events:

  1. The person will become unresponsive. They will not respond and answer when you call, will not react nor flinch if you move him/her around. And sometimes, they may even suddenly collapse.
  2. For a few seconds, his/her muscles will clench, and they will become stiff.
  3. Afterward, a series of jerking movements will occur. Usually, these last for a few seconds or minutes.
  4. Lastly, the jerking will eventually stop and he/she will regain consciousness. However, they may be disoriented or confused for a few minutes.

There are a number of risks that come with both of these seizures because the person experiencing them will be unaware of their actions and their surroundings. This means that they cannot protect themselves from harm or any chances of injury. Here are the top things you should do when these occur.


Step 1: Do Not Panic

A son calmly calling an ambulance for his father having a seizure

In times of seizures, your first response may be to panic because it can be fairly frightening to watch. However, it is of extreme importance that you stay calm to efficiently be of help to the person experiencing a seizure.


Step 2: Move Them If In Danger

If you’re with someone that is having a seizure, move them ONLY if they are at risk or in danger. This refers to instances wherein they are near sharp objects, in the kitchen, or at a public place or a busy road.


Step 3: Cushion Their Head

An unconscious woman having a seizure

If they are lying down, make sure to place them in a comfortable position to help them breathe better. Place a pillow or a cushion beneath their head.


Step 4: Loosen Any Tight Clothes

In line with helping them breathe better, you should also loosen any tight clothing, especially if it is around the person’s neck. This will also help keep their airways free.


Step 5: Put Them Into Recovery Position

Two women helping a man having a seizure into the recovery position

Once the seizure is over and they are unconscious yet breathing without any other life-threatening conditions, place them into the recovery position. This will keep airways clear and open as well as eliminate choking hazards. Here is a step-by-step guide:

  1. Kneel on the floor at their side.
  2. Place their nearest arm at a right angle with their hand upwards and towards their head.
  3. Move and tuck the other hand under the side of their head. The back of their hand should be touching their cheek.
  4. Bend the knee that is farthest from you to a right angle.
  5. Carefully and gradually roll them onto their side by pulling on the bent knee.


Step 6: Call An Ambulance

Call the ambulance as soon as possible and rush them to the nearest emergency center if:

  • This is their first time experiencing a seizure
  • The seizure lasts for more than five minutes
  • The person does not regain consciousness and is experiencing occurring seizures afterward
  • The person is injured during the seizure


Step 7: Take Note Of The Happenings

A bystander explaining seizure happenings

Make sure that while the seizure is happening, you are remembering everything that has happened so far. Take note of the events in your head. It is also recommended that you time the seizure. This way, if they are brought to the emergency center, the doctors will know the best treatment.


Key Takeaway

It pays to be equipped all the time. Seizures can happen to anyone and at any time. Knowing what to do when an epileptic seizure occurs will make all the difference and can even help you save a person’s life.

In case of these types of emergencies, the Perpetual Help Medical Center-Las Pinas is here to address all your needs. We are well-positioned to help you with not only seizures but with any other medical emergencies as well. We are located at Alabang-Zapote Rd., Pamplona III. Las Pinas City, Philippines 1740.

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