Seizures are sudden, uncontrolled electrical disturbances in the brain that can cause changes in behavior, movements, feelings, and levels of consciousness. Recognizing and managing seizures effectively is crucial, as they can occur unexpectedly and in any individual, regardless of age or medical history. The ability to provide appropriate first aid can make a significant difference in the safety and outcome for someone experiencing a seizure.
The first step in managing a seizure is to recognize its signs. Seizures can manifest in various ways, depending on the type. Generalized seizures, such as tonic-clonic seizures, are the most recognizable. They can cause a person to cry out, fall to the ground, have muscle spasms, and lose consciousness. Other types, like absence seizures, may be less noticeable and involve brief lapses in consciousness where the person appears to be staring into space. Complex partial seizures can result in repetitive movements, such as hand-rubbing, chewing, or walking in circles.
When you witness someone having a seizure, your primary goal is to protect them from injury. Move any dangerous objects away from the person to prevent injury. If they are on the ground, try to place something soft under their head, like a folded jacket or a pillow, to cushion it. It is a common misconception to try to hold the person down or put something in their mouth. This should be avoided, as it can cause more harm than good. Holding someone down can lead to injuries, and placing objects in the mouth can damage teeth or even block the airway.
During a seizure, it’s important to be calm and reassuring. Seizures can be frightening to witness, but most are over within a few minutes. Gently speaking to the person during and after the seizure can be comforting. Once the seizure stops, the person may be confused and disoriented. Stay with them, offering reassurance and explaining what happened in simple terms.
After the seizure, check for injuries. If the person is injured or if it’s their first seizure, seek medical attention. It’s also important to call for emergency help if the seizure lasts more than five minutes, the person has multiple seizures without regaining full consciousness, or if the seizure occurs in water.
Positioning the person correctly after the seizure is also important. Once the seizure has stopped, and if they are not fully awake, gently roll them onto their side into the recovery position. This helps keep the airway clear and allows any fluid or vomit to drain away, reducing the risk of choking.
Monitoring the person’s breathing is crucial. If they stop breathing or if their breathing seems unusually shallow or labored after the seizure, begin CPR if you’re trained and call for emergency assistance immediately.
Preventing a crowd from forming and giving the person privacy and space is also important. Once the seizure is over and the person is awake and aware, they may feel embarrassed or anxious about what happened. Reassuring them and offering to call a friend or family member for support can be helpful.
In conclusion, recognizing and managing seizures is an essential skill in first aid. It involves ensuring the safety of the person experiencing the seizure, protecting them from injury, and providing support and reassurance during and after the event. Understanding the different types of seizures and how to respond appropriately can make a significant difference in the outcome for someone experiencing this medical emergency.