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Epilepsy is is a term to describe when someone has a tendency to have repeated unprovoked convulsions, which are also known as seizures. Treatment is the same for most types of epilepsy.
When someone has a seizure it can be a frightening thing for a first aider to deal with. The first thing you should do if someone has a seizure is to actually help them.
- First protect the person from injury, by removing harmful objects from nearby.
- Cushion their head
- Note the time the seizure started and finished.
- Look for an epilepsy identity card or identity jewellery
- Aid breathing by gently placing them in the recovery position once the seizure has finished
- Be calmly reassuring
- Stay with the person until recovery is complete
- Don’t restrain or move the person
- Do not put anything in the person’s mouth
- Try not to move the person unless they are in danger
- Do not give the person anything to eat or drink until they are fully recovered
- Do not attempt to bring them around
With all types of epilepsy, you must keep checking that the patient is breathing and has a pulse. During the seizure, they may stop breathing for a short while but this will return.
Call an ambulance if…
- You know it is the person’s first seizure
- The seizure continues for more than five minutes
- One tonic-clonic seizure follows another without the person regaining consciousness between seizures
- The person is injured during the seizure
- You believe the person needs urgent medical attention
Finally, it is rare but if they stop breathing you will need to activate the EMS and start CPR.