Guest Post–Learning to React to a Seizure: Things Everyone Should Know

October 31, 2012

Guest Post: Leslie Johnson is an education health writer for She welcomes your comments.

Seizures— in their most common form—are the result of irregular, electrical activity in the brain and often lead to involuntary muscle contractions and convulsions. Although they typically last less than five minutes, they can result in disorientation and potentially worse complications if not handled in the right way.

While it’s rare that they result in any permanent damage seizure episodes are still a very serious matter and should be handled with care. Commonly, they occur because the individual having them has a condition such as epilepsy, although other things have been known to cause them like stress.

For people not very familiar with them, seizures can be a scary, startling event, especially if they don’t know the proper “protocol” of things to do in such a situation. They wonder, should I do this for the person experiencing it, or maybe I should do that, and really, the only way to overcome this uncertainty and proceed confidently is to empower one’s self with knowledge and information.

So, in the event that you are near someone having a seizure, the information in below should help you better understand how to handle the situation. Read on to learn what you SHOULD be doing.

Don’t Move Them

Unless they are in a dangerous, potentially harmful position, it is best to not move or shake the individual in any way. If you can, situate them onto his or her side for breathing purposes, but no sudden, big movements—they can likely lead to more harm and injury than good.

Clear the Area

Since the individual’s muscles are contracting involuntarily, they have no control over their movements or gestures, so you want to ensure there is nothing around them that can cause them harm. Move tables, chairs, stands, anything that could fall or injure them should it be jarred unexpectedly. This will also make room for paramedics, should they need to be called onto the scene.

Clock the Seizure

If you can, it’s a good idea to make note of WHEN the seizure begins. Generally they do not last longer than 2 minutes, so in the event that it does you can relay that to medical professionals.

Stay Alert Until the Seizure Ends

Just because seizures can be a potentially routine part of a person’s life, doesn’t mean that each episode will be routine. There’s always the chance that something could take a different, negative turn, so you want to be sure you are there to provide further assistance if necessary. Also, it is likely that the individual will experience a bit of disorientation once the seizure stops, so you want to be there to reassure them of where they are and what happened.

Alert Medical Professionals If Anything Was Different than Usual

If the person has never had a seizure before, or experienced symptoms unlike their usual episodes, contact medical professionals immediately. They should be checked out as soon as possible to ensure no serious damage has been done.

Overall, knowing how to respond in the event of any emergency is an important skill, because you just never know what might happen. Being on alert and at the ready are invaluable traits everyone should strive for.

Leslie Johnson is an education health writer for She welcomes your comments.




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