Around 1 in 26 Americans have epilepsy. This disease, along with a few other health conditions, can cause seizures. Witnessing someone having a seizure can be very frightening, but if you know how to handle it, you may be able to help.

Most seizures are not a medical emergency and will stop on their own. While there is nothing you can do to stop the seizure, you can take steps to help keep the person safe. Here’s how to help someone having a seizure.

What Does a Seizure Look Like?

There are multiple types of seizures, but the most common type you think about is the tonic-clonic seizure. They tend to follow a pattern:

  • Person becomes unresponsive
  • Muscles clench and person is rigid
  • Body convulsions
  • Person regains consciousness

After someone has a seizure, he or she may be a little disoriented and confused for a short period. Most likely, they will have no idea what happened.

The biggest danger of this type of seizure is that the person could hurt themselves because they are unaware of their surroundings. People having a seizure cannot protect themselves during a seizure, so this where you can help.

Milder seizures may just be a bit of shaking in the arms or legs. The person may just get a blank stare during a seizure. Many people say this type of seizure is similar to sleepwalking.

How to Help Someone Having a Seizure

If you witness someone having a seizure, you should:

  • Keep others back
  • Make sure the person has plenty of room
  • Move any sharp or hard objects out of the way
  • Loosen clothing near the neck
  • Look for any epilepsy identification jewelry
  • Gently turn the person’s head to one side
  • Cushion the person’s head

You should never try to restrict movements. You cannot stop the jerking motions, so do not try. Doing so can result in injury to you or the person having a seizure.

Try to time the seizure if you can by looking at your watch when it starts and stops. 

Remember that the seizure is most likely not an emergency. It will look scary, but try not to panic.

You should never leave someone alone that is having a seizure. Stay with the person until he or she is fully alert.

When the person regains consciousness, reassure them that everything is okay. You also should not let the person eat or drink until they are fully recovered.

When to Get Help

There are times you should call 9-1-1. Get help when:

  • The seizure lasts more than 5 minutes
  • The person is not fully alert after movements stop
  • Another seizure happens shortly after
  • It’s a child’s first seizure
  • The person gets injured

If you are worried that something else is wrong, you may want to call a doctor for seizure services. You should also call the doctor if the person has another medical condition such as diabetes or heart disease.

Final Thoughts

Now you know how to help someone having a seizure. The most important things to remember are to stay calm, try to keep the person from being injured, and call for help if you think you need it.

Keep checking out our site for other helpful advice for taking excellent care of yourself, children, and your parents.


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