Merry Christmas! I pray for blessings for all of you
throughout this season. During the last six months I have
covered first aid for cardiac and respiratory conditions,
fainting, bleeding and strokes. This month I will review
first aid care for seizures.
A seizure is a sudden episode of uncontrolled electrical
activity in the brain. Seizures may cause a series of
involuntary muscle contractions, behavioral changes,
sensory abnormalities or a temporary loss of
consciousness. Seizures have been linked to brain
abnormalities like epilepsy, but infections, fever, trauma,
and substance abuse may be involved. Mild seizures like
blank staring or loss of awareness and involuntary
blinking, chewing or facial movements require little first
aid treatment. However the victim should consult a doctor
for evaluation. Stay calm, speak reassuringly, and guide
them out of dangerous situations by blocking. Never
restrain a victim, but protect him if you can, until full
awareness has returned. If the victim is agitated stay away
but try to protect him from harm until full awareness has
The most important response in first aid for seizures is
safety. Here are a few things that you can do to help
someone who is having a generalized tonic-clonic or
grand mal seizure.
*Keep calm and clear the area around the person of
anything hard or sharp.
*Ease the person to the floor and remove eyeglasses,
loosen clothing around the neck or anything that might
make breathing difficult.
*Time the seizure with your watch.
*Do not hold the person or try to stop his movement.
Contrary to popular belief, the person having a seizure
cannot swallow his tongue. Do not put anything in a
seizuring persons mouth.
*Turn the person gently to one side if possible. This will
help keep the airway clear. Don’t attempt artificial
respiration during a seizure.
*Stay with the person until the seizure ends naturally and
he is fully awake. Do not offer food or water to the seizure
*Offer to call a friend or relative to help him get home. Be
friendly and reassuring.
Consider a seizure an emergency and call 911 if any of the
*the seizure lasts more than five minutes without signs of
slowing down, or if a person has difficulty breathing
afterwards or states he is in pain.
*The person does not awaken after the seizure has stopped,
or another seizure starts soon after the first one.
*The person becomes aggressive afterward or is injured
during the seizure.
*The seizure occurs in water.
*The person states he has diabetes, a heart condition or is
Persons with a history of seizures may recover and require
no further intervention. Remember safety is the most
appropriate first aid for seizures.
–Pat Woerheide, RN