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Epilepsy First Aid Tips at Home: What to Do and How to Help

Epilepsy First Aid Tips at Home: What to Do and How to Help

A seizure episode can be experienced by anyone, anywhere, at any time. Witnessing such an event can make someone feel frightened and desperate. However, being aware of what epilepsy is, its warning signs, and being knowledgeable about epilepsy first aid tips at home can help you assist someone who’s having an episode.

Understanding Epilepsy: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that occurs when there is an abnormality in brain activity, which causes recurrent epileptic seizures. A seizure episode can be hard to identify since these episodes may vary depending on their type.

A person experiencing a seizure might

  • Project rapid blinking
  • Been in a staring spell
  • Experience change in senses
  • Have muscle twitches or spasm
  • Suddenly fall
  • Lose of consciousness.

These are just a few of many signs that a person might be having a seizure. If you suspect someone having a seizure, seek medical help immediately.

Some cases of seizures can result in injuries such as scrapes, wounds, or even broken bone. A person suffering from seizures may lose consciousness and fall.

Anyone can experience seizures regardless of their gender, age, and race. However, the risks of having epilepsy are greater in younger children, older adults, and men.

Having one seizure episode does not mean a person has epilepsy. A person can be diagnosed with epilepsy if there has been a series of unprovoked seizures.

Unprovoked seizures are those that occur without identifiable cause. They can happen spontaneously and are expected to recur if treatment is not given.

Epilepsy can be diagnosed using tests that detect brain abnormalities like an electroencephalogram (EEG). Commonly, people call someone with epilepsy “epileptic.” However, the correct term when referring to them is “person with epilepsy.”

What Causes Epilepsy?

For some, the cause of epilepsy results from past brain trauma or injury. Unfortunately, for most cases of epilepsy, the cause is still unknown.

Here are some of the known factors that cause epilepsy:

  • Prenatal injuries such as exposure to maternal infection. Poor nutrition, oxygen deficiency, and brain injury heighten a child’s risk of epilepsy.
  • Head trauma or injury is a common cause in most diagnosed cases of epilepsy.
  • Brain conditions such as brain tumors, stroke, congenital brain defect
  • Brain infections like meningitis, malaria, encephalitis, and brain abscess
  • Intellectual/developmental disabilities like autism, neurofibromatosis type 1, and cerebral palsy

The following are the common seizure triggers you need to be aware of:

  • Missing doses of seizure medications
  • Lack of sleep
  • Physical fatigue
  • Physical and emotional stress
  • Alcohol and drug abuse

epilepsy first aid tips at home

First Aid

Different types of seizures require a specific type of first aid. You can practice these epilepsy first aid tips at home, so you can offer help when someone is experiencing such a condition.

Tonic-clonic seizures

A tonic-clonic seizure occurs when a person is experiencing the stiffening of certain body parts, shaking, or has lost consciousness.

Do

  • The key to a successful first aid is being calm.
  • Stay with the person until the episode ends.
  • Keep the person safe from harm by removing hazardous objects out of the way.
  • If the person is on the floor, put something soft behind their head to prevent further injuries.
  • Make sure the person is breathing by turning them on their side while positioning their mouth facing the ground. Doing this can help clear the airways and prevent saliva from blocking them.
  • Usually, a tonic-clonic seizure lasts for about one to three minutes, so make sure to stay by the person’s side.
  • Once the episode has subsided and the person regains consciousness, calmly inform the person what has happened and ask them if they are okay.
  • Comfort the person and stay until they feel safe.

Focal seizures

In this particular case, a person experiences changes in senses and motion, or lack of mental functioning.

Do

  • A person having a focal seizure is not aware of their environment even if they are awake. So, if you happen to witness someone who is having this kind of episode, make sure to guide them away from unsafe places and risky objects.
  • After the episode, ask the person calmly if they are all right and if they are aware of what is happening.
  • Make sure the person stays calm by staying with them until they fully recover, or until someone comes to pick them up.

Don’t

  • Refrain from pinning the person down or never attempt to restrain them from shaking. Restraining them may cause more injury to the patient as well as others.
  • Never put something inside the mouth of a person who is having a seizure, as this may result in choking.
  • Do not give water, medicine, or anything else to a person having a seizure.
  • Refrain from giving CPR or mouth-to-mouth breaths as the person will eventually breathe normally after a seizure.

Call for emergency if:

  • A seizure has been going on for about five minutes or a second seizure has begun
  • The person has not regained consciousness five minutes after an episode
  • A person has been experiencing more episodes than typical
  • The person is hurt, turning blue, or choking
  • A pregnant woman is having a seizure
  • The person you are with is having a seizure for the first time
  • You are not knowledgeable about first aid.

Key Takeaways

Living with epilepsy can be overwhelming, frightening, and stressful since unpredictable seizure episodes can happen at any time. However, it is advantageous to learn about epilepsy first aid tips at home.

Knowing first aid will not only help you relieve the stress of someone having an episode, but it can also save lives. Keep in mind though that calling for professional/ medical help is still the best way to ensure the safety of a person with epilepsy.

Learn more about Epilepsy, here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Epilepsy https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/epilepsy/symptoms-causes/syc-20350093 Accessed September 18, 2020

Types of Seizure https://www.cdc.gov/epilepsy/about/types-of-seizures.htm Accessed September 18, 2020

Epilepsy https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/epilepsy/ Accessed September 18, 2020

Seizure First Aid https://www.cdc.gov/epilepsy/about/first-aid.htm Accessed September 18, 2020

Seizure First Aid http://www.epilepsyaustralia.net/seizure-first-aid/ Accessed September 18, 2020

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Written by Mayvilyn Cabigao Updated Feb 03
Medically reviewed by Mia Dacumos, M.D.
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