Around 50 million people from around the world have epilepsy making it one of the most common neurological diseases globally. With 30% of epileptic seizures being generalised seizures and 60% experiencing focal seizures, it is apparent that the support of the general public can reduce the chances of injury and harm to a person should someone you know have a seizure in your company.
A seizure is caused by a disruption of electrical activity within the brain which may lead to uncontrollable contractions in a person's muscles and unresponsiveness. If you see someone have a seizure, the most common cause is epilepsy.
Step by Step Support When a Seizure Occurs
Understand Basic Seizure Types
If your friend or a family member suffers from epilepsy, it is important to ask questions regarding how often they have epileptic fits, how severe they usually are and a person to contact should you be there when they experience a seizure. You can also find out what type of seizures they have. Some types such as atonic seizures make a person fall to the ground hence their second name 'drop attacks'. Some start slowly with ringing in the ears, impaired vision or shaking bodyparts. This allows the person a little time to position themselves in a safe environment until the seizure is over. The way you can help is to understand the different types so that you can recognise symptoms should you come across them.
Know The Symptoms
When someone is having a seizure, the most common symptoms are;
- lack of responsiveness
- rigid body
- arched back
- difficulty breathing/noisy breathing
- convulsive movements
- saliva in the mouth
- loss of bladder control
Clear The Area
If you witness any of the following symptoms then you should begin clearing the area surrounding them removing hot drinks, sharp objects such as pens, and glasses, ties and other items of clothing that may cause injury.
Guard - Not Restrict
During the seizure, the person must not be restricted or held down. Allow them to have plenty of space until the fit is over. If they are lying on solid ground you can find something soft to place under their head such as a jacket or rucksack.
Note The Time
As soon as you recognise a person is having a seizure it is important to make a note of when it started and how long it lasts. Seizures over five minutes should be taken very seriously and an ambulance should be called immediately.
After The Seizure
Once the seizure has stopped, check the persons airways are clear, ensure that they are breathing then put them into the recovery position.
When To Call An Ambulance
If the seizure lasted longer than five minutes, they are unresponsive for more than ten minutes, if they have sustained an injury, if it is their first-ever seizure or if the person is struggling to breathe, you should call for an ambulance.
For more information on how you can support those who suffer with seizures, we advise contacting the epilepsy support helpline here.