Expert Health Articles

Seizure First Aid

Seizure First Aid

Seizures are estimated to affect 8-10% of the general population over a lifetime and account for approximately 1-2% of all emergency department visits. When a seizure occurs, there is abnormal and excessive electrical activity in the brain, which can cause changes in awareness, behavior or atypical body movements that generally only last for a few seconds to a few minutes. If you were to see someone having a seizure, would you know how to respond safely and appropriately?

Seizure first aid is comprised of care and comfort steps that should be performed for anyone during or after a seizure. The primary goal of seizure first aid is to keep the seizing person safe and to know when a higher level of care is needed. Some seizures end on their own and the person is able to resume their previous level of activity quickly. However, others may need more time to recover before resuming their usual activity. Seizure first aid may be remembered by STAY, SAFE and SIDE.

The first step is to stay with the person until they are awake and alert after the seizure. Remain calm and check to see if the person has a medical ID or information for an emergency contact. If able, time the length of the seizure from start to end. Second, keep the person safe. Move or guide the person away from harm but do not restrain or put any objects in their mouth. Third, turn the person onto their side if they are not awake or aware. Doing so allows the person to keep a clear airway. If able, loosen any tight clothing around the neck and put something soft and small under their head. Bystanders should call 911 if the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes, if there are repeated seizures, if the event is a first-time seizure, if the person does not return to their usual state, if the person is injured, pregnant or sick, if the person has difficulty breathing, or if the seizure occurs in water. People who are known to have seizures are encouraged to have a seizure action plan that can help organize seizure information and be readily available when seizures occur.

Knowing how to help someone during a seizure can make a difference and even save a life. Seizures can be a frightening event for those having the seizure and those witnessing the seizure if they do not understand what is happening or what to do to help and keep the seizing person safe. Everyone should know and be familiar with seizure first aid. Just remember, STAY, SAFE and SIDE.

Taylor Tweed, PA-C

Neurological Associates of Northwest Ohio