Consider this a public service announcement. Seizures are something most people know very little about. And I’m finding that most people don’t have any interest to learn. The thing is, anyone can have a first unexpected seizure, and if it’s you, hope that someone around knows what to do.
Not everyone having a seizure will froth at the mouth, or even shake or tremble. Some seizures involve just ‘zoning out’ for a short period (those ‘absence seizures’ don’t usually require any immediate medical attention). But most other seizures will involve either going limp and falling to the ground, or going rigid, or both. The body may also shake – either gently or more violently. So what do you do?
- Calm down. Most seizures are not medical emergencies, and your calmness is the best thing for the situation.
- Make sure there’s nothing sharp or hard near the person seizing. They should be in a rather comfortable place where they can’t fall (i.e., not the edge of the Grand Canyon, not a concrete sidewalk, no scissors or knifes nearby)
- DO NOT put anything in their mouth. It is a myth that they could bite their tongue, swallow it, or anything like that. Do not attempt to rescue them from a myth.
- If possible, it’s best for them to be on their side, especially if there are any indications that they might vomit.
- Look for a clock and make a mental note of what time the seizure started. Also note what time it ends.
- When the person stops seizing, they will be completely out of it for anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes, depending on a lot of variables. Do talk to them to judge their level of consciousness. Also note what time they ‘come back’ to themselves.
- If it was a first seizure, the person will need immediate medical attention to rule out potential causes like chemical ingestion and the like. But if the person has had seizures before, they probably don’t need medical attention unless the seizure itself lasted more than 10 minutes, or they don’t ‘come back’ to themselves after 15-20 minutes.
There you have it, folks. It’s really not that hard. The basics are – nothing in the mouth, stay calm. I hope that if my son should have another seizure, and it happens when he’s not with me, that someone around will know what to do. You could be that person – if not to my son, then to someone else.