About 1 out of 100 people may have a seizure during his or her lifetime. That means seizures are common, and one day you might need to help someone during or after a seizure.
A seizure can be a frightening event for the person who is experiencing it as well as the bystander. “tonic-clonic seizures are the most dramatic and frightening.”
During tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizures, a person may convulse (jerking movements), lose consciousness, have stiffened muscles or bite their tongue or cheek. A person can also lose control of their bladder or bowels.
Learn what you can do to keep that person safe until the seizure stops by itself.
What should you do in the event that someone you know is having a tonic- clonic seizure? Here is how you can help them:
Cushion or support their head
Look to see if they own an epilepsy card or identification jewelry-this may provide you with information about the next steps you can take
Protect them from injury by removing objects within reach
Lay them on their side
Loosen tight clothing, especially around the neck
Time how long convulsions last
Once convulsions have stopped, place them in the recovery position
Knowing what NOT to do is important for keeping a person safe during or after a seizure.
Never do any of the following things
• Do not hold the person down or try to stop his or her movements.
• Do not put anything in the person’s mouth. This can injure teeth or the jaw. A person having a seizure cannot swallow his or her tongue.
• Do not try to give mouth-to-mouth breaths (like CPR). People usually start breathing again on their own after a seizure.
• Do not offer the person water or food until he or she is fully alert.
Seizures do not usually require emergency medical attention. Only call medical emergency if one or more of these are true:
• The person has never had a seizure before.
• The person has difficulty breathing or waking after the seizure.
• The seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes.
• The person has another seizure soon after the first one.
• The person is hurt during the seizure.
• The seizure happens in water.
• The person has a health condition like diabetes, heart disease, or is pregnant.