How can I ensure my safety if I have a seizure?

  • Always carry medical identification. If an emergency occurs, your medical information can help the people around you maintain your safety and provide the appropriate treatment.
  • Make sure your family, friends, and co-workers know what to do if you have a seizure. See below for general instructions.
  • If you have active seizures, avoid potential dangers such as high places or moving machinery at home, school, or work. Although there is less risk if your seizures are under control, your attention should focus on the specific risks of your own job, such as mowing or working around farm machinery, French fryer/hot grease, etc.
  • It is important for you to remain active, but perform sports and other activities with caution. Avoid potentially dangerous activities, such as bathing, swimming, gymnastics, or mountain climbing without someone nearby. Have another person with you who knows your seizure risk and is trained in life-saving techniques. Activities such as baseball, bike riding, canoeing, horseback riding, or hockey can be made safer by wearing helmets and/or life jackets, and having another person with you.
  • If you are prescribed antiepileptic medicine, do not suddenly stop taking it or change the dosage without consulting your doctor. The type of anticonvulsant medicine you are prescribed depends on the type of epilepsy you have, and the dose is prescribed especially for you according to your weight, age, gender, and other factors.
  • Be alert to the risks of possible drug interactions between your anticonvulsant medicines and other medicines you might take, including over-the-counter drugs. Always call your doctor or pharmacist if you are not sure what interactions could occur before taking any medicine.
  • Avoid alcohol, as it can interfere with the effectiveness of your medicine.

What should I do for person who has a seizure?

  • Loosen clothing around the person's neck.
  • Do not try to hold the person down or restrain him or her. This can result in injury. Do not insert any objects in the person's mouth. This can also cause injury.
  • Reassure bystanders who might be panicking and ask them to give the person room.
  • Remove sharp objects (glasses, furniture, and other objects) from around the person to prevent injury.
  • Position the person on his or her side or in a semi-prone position to maintain an open airway and prevent the person from inhaling any secretions.
  • After many seizures, there might be confusion for a period of time, and the person should not be left alone.
  • In many cases, especially if the person is known to have epilepsy, it is not necessary to call an ambulance. If the seizure lasts longer than five minutes, if another seizure begins soon after the first, or if the person cannot be awakened after the movements have stopped, call an ambulance. If you are concerned that something else might be wrong, or if the person has heart disease or diabetes, contact a doctor immediately.

What To Do If Your Child Has A Seizure

Generalized Tonic-Clonic or Grand Mal (Loss of Awareness)

  • Move the child away from hard, sharp, or hot objects. Put something soft under the child's head. Turn the child on one side to keep the airway clear.
  • Do not put anything in the child's the mouth or give liquids or medicines during or immediately after the seizure.
  • Do not try to hold the child's tongue, it cannot be swallowed.
  • Do not restrain movement.
  • Reassure your child when consciousness returns.
  • Usually it is not necessary to call an ambulance if it is known that the child has epilepsy, and the seizure ends after a minute or two.
  • Call for emergency aid if this is the child's first seizure of unknown cause; if multiple seizures occur; if the seizure lasts longer than five minutes; or if the child seems sick, injured, or unresponsive.

Absence or Petit Mal (Loss of Awareness)

  • Observe the child carefully. Reassure the child if he or she is scared or confused.
  • Try to count and record episodes.

Partial Seizure (No Loss of Awareness)

  • Observe the child carefully. Reassure the child if he or she is scared or confused.
  • If the seizure becomes a convulsion or generalized seizure, follow the instruction indicated above.

Partial Seizures (Loss of Awareness)

  • Speak calmly to the child and other children around him or her.
  • If the child is walking, guide him or her gently to a safe place.
  • Stay close until the seizure has ended and the child is completely aware of where he or she is and can respond normally when spoken to.
  • If the person is not cooperative, do not use force to restrain him or her as it could make the person more resistant.

Myoclonic Seizures (Loss of Awareness)

  • Speak calmly to the child and other children around him or her.
  • If the child is walking, guide him or her gently to a safe place.
  • Stay close until the seizure has ended and the child is completely aware of where he or she is and can respond normally when spoken to.
  • If the seizure is a first occurrence, a medical checkup is recommended.

Myoclonic Jerks (No Loss of Awareness)

  • Reassure the child and check to see if he or she got hurt from the fall.
  • If the seizure is a first occurrence, a medical checkup is recommended.

Atonic

  • Comfort the child if he or she is hurt.
  • A medical checkup is recommended.
  • Discuss injury prevention with your doctor. Sometimes, a helmet is useful.

Infantile Spasms

  • Look for clusters of attacks.
  • Comfort the child when the attacks occur.
  • Prompt medical attention is needed.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/10/2015.

References

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