Seizures (colloquially known as ‘fits’) can be caused by a variety of reasons, and can have a wide range of symptoms. Some seizures can cause the person to fall on the floor (generalized tonic-clonic seizures), whereas in others, the individual can have staring spells (absence seizures).
Seizures and epilepsy are not the same thing! A seizure is an abnormal movement or behavior caused due to unusual electrical activity in the brain, whereas epilepsy is the presence of spontaneous, unprovoked seizures. People of any age can have epilepsy – the causes and symptoms of epilepsy are varied, as are the treatment options. 1 in 26 people in the US have epilepsy, so it’s better to educate oneself about seizures and epilepsy.
How should you react and provide care if you encounter someone experiencing a seizure?
- First, keep calm!
- Help prevent injury by removing sharp objects around the person, and by putting something soft and flat under the person’s head. Remove eyeglasses and loosen ties.
TIP: Contrary to popular belief, do not place anything in the person’s mouth, as this can cause injury to the jaw, teeth or tongue.
3. Time the seizure! Call 911 in the following situations: if the seizure continues for more than five minutes, if the person has been injured or is in pain, or if the individual is pregnant.
TIP: Do not hold the person down or try to stop his/her movements. This can cause injury to the person. If the person is thrashing around, there is no need for you to restrain them. Remember to consider your safety as well.
4. Turn the person gently to one side to keep airway clear.
5. Stay with the person and reassure him/her once the seizure is over.
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