Managing epileptic seizure is often simple: keeping the person safe from harm and staying with him/her as the individual fully recover afterwards. How you can best help someone depends on the type of seizure the person has and what happened to the person. There are different types of epileptic seizures, some may have seizures while they are awake, others may have seizures when asleep; some may experience more than one type of seizure.
There are two main types of epileptic seizure: focal and generalized seizures. If it is someone you don’t know, or have no idea about their epilepsy, this article gives some simple steps on how to help during and after a seizure.
Below is a quick general guideline when someone is having an epileptic seizure.
- Be calm.
- Safety- is the person in a hazardous place? Don’t move the individual but rather move objects like furniture way from the victim. Only move the person if he/she is in danger like a busy road, dump site etc.
- Take note of time when it began and also take note when it will end.
- Do not hold them down – allow the seizure to happen.
- Please stay with person throughout the seizure and speak gently and guide him/her away from danger where necessary.
- Cushion the person’s head with something soft if the victim fell on the floor; please do not hold them down. Improvise in the absence of something by cupping his head in your hands, to stop it hitting the ground.
- Don’t put anything in victim’s mouth, the person will not swallow his/her tongue.
- If a seizure doesn’t stop after 5 minutes, call for an ambulance or dial the emergency health number of your country if there is any.
- After the seizure has stopped, gently put the person into the recovery position and check that their breathing is returning to normal. Gently check the individual’s mouth to see that nothing is blocking his/her airway like food. If breathing is difficult after the seizure has stopped, call an ambulance.
- Try to stop other people crowding around.
But for effective management, it is best you know the types of epileptic seizure and how best to manage them. Focal seizures start in, and affect, part of the brain: either a large part or just one small area. What happens during the seizure depends on where in the brain the seizure happens and what that part of the brain normally does.
In Focal Aware Seizures, the victim is conscious and alert, knows that the seizure is taking place. A focal aware seizure could be an abnormal smell, taste, a twitching of an arm, a strange feeling in the stomach. This particular seizure is known as ‘WARNING’ seizure
Focal Impaired Awareness Seizures known before now as CPS Complex Partial Seizures. Focal impaired awareness seizures affect more of the brain than focal aware seizures. The person’s consciousness is affected, and they may be confused and not know what they are doing, some of the features includes; victims wandering around, Strange behavior, pick objects, make chewing movements with their mouth, desire to sleep. These seizures can last for a short period of time usually a few seconds or a few minutes.
WHAT TO DO
- Do not restrain the victim as this may confuse them the more.
- Calmly move them away from any form of risk like moving into a busy road
- Be gentle as he/she may be confused, any form forcefulness maybe counterproductive
- Reassure the patient and stay with him/her until he /she is fully recovered, the desire to sleep may also be strong
Generalised Seizures affect both sides of the brain at once and happen without warning. The person usually becomes unconscious and will not remember the seizure afterwards.
Absence Seizures; during this episode, the person becomes unconscious for a brief time. The individual may look blank and stare and will not respond to what is happening around him. If he was walking, he may carry on walking but will not be conscious of what he is doing.
WHAT TO DO
- Same as above.
Tonic and Atonic Seizures; In a tonic seizure the person’s muscles suddenly become stiff. If he/she is standing, the victim falls, usually backwards, and may injure the back of his/her head at the process. In an atonic seizure or ‘drop attack’ the person’s muscles suddenly relax and become floppy. If the patient is standing, he/she falls forward, and may injure the head or face. Both seizures are quick and takes place without warning, recovery is fast.
WHAT TO DO
- Same as above and if they are gotten injuries during the attack, they may need medical attention.
Myoclonic Seizures; literally means ‘muscle jerk’, and these seizures involve jerking of a limb or part of a limb. They often happen shortly after waking up, are brief, and can happen in clusters (many happening close together in time).
WHAT TO DO
- See to it that the patient does not harm his/herself during the encounter.
Tonic Clonic and Clonic Seizures ;
In this case the person goes stiff ‘tonic’, falls to the ground, and starts jerking ‘clonic’. His/her breathing may be affected, and may go pale, especially at the mouth region. Biting of the tongue may occur. Some people have clonic seizures without going stiff at the beginning. Usually, once the jerking stops, the person recovers and their breathing goes back to normal.
WHAT TO DO
Same as the quick guidelines written above
In general, do call an ambulance when any of these occurs; the victim is badly injured, has difficulty in breathing after an attack, the seizure lasts more than five minutes and you have no idea how long the person’s seizure lasts, one attack follows another without recovery in between.
In conclusion, epileptic seizure looks life threatening but the situation can be controlled with the above mentioned tips.