Epilepsy is the condition when one has seizures that start in the brain. It’s often diagnosed after several seizures have already occurred. Sadly, the brain’s delicate and intricate construction makes it difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of a person’s epileptic seizure. If there is a clear cause, it often involves a type of brain damage. Epilepsy can be controlled by taking anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs).
If you know someone who’s suffering from epilepsy, make sure that you have basic first aid training so you know what to do during and after an epileptic fit. However, you don’t need to wait for someone to have a fit before learning what to do. Here are some basic guidelines for what to do if someone is having a seizure –
- Keep calm. Witnessing an epileptic attack is frightening at first, but panicking will only make things worse for you and for the one who needs your help.
- Check the environment. Look around and check if the victim is in a dangerous place. If you’re in a safe area, there’s no need to move the victim. But make sure that you clear your surroundings, move furniture and other objects away from the person having a seizure.
- Take note of when the seizure started and how long it lasted.
- Remain with the victim. Some epileptics remain standing while having seizures. Most are confused afterwards or have blanked out, so talk to them calmly and slowly and gently guide them away.
- If the victim has collapsed, find something soft to cushion their heads on.
- Never hold them down. Most would be trashing around during a fit which at times can be so bad or violent. Holding them down will only result in injury to the victim or you.
- Never put anything in their mouth or try to open it. During fits, the tendency is for the mouth to clamp down tightly. Prying it open might also lead to serious injuries.
- Check the time and note how long the seizure lasted. Call 911 if the convulsions don’t stop after 5 minutes.
- Once the seizure has stopped, place the victim in the Recovery position. Check if their breathing has returned to normal. This is also the time to check their mouth and make sure that there’s nothing blocking the airway. Call 911 if the victim is having difficulty breathing even after the seizures have stopped.
- Remain with the victim until they have recovered. There’s a possibility that another seizure might occur so there should be someone watching over them. Call 911 if this happens or if the victim was injured while having a fit.
Epileptic seizures can happen anytime and anywhere to anyone. No one can tell if he or she has epilepsy until an attack happens. It’s for this reason why it’s best to arm ourselves with adequate medical information. There are some First Aid and CPR courses that would touch on how to respond to an epileptic fit. Ask your community institutions if they’re conducting classes on this or check if there are workplace approved Programs that teach first aid for seizures.