A grand mal seizure occurs when there is an abnormal level of electrical activity in the brain. It causes a person to lose consciousness and later have convulsions. All parts of the body are affected. Seizures are usually associated with epilepsy, although in some cases, it can occur as a result of extremely low blood sugar levels, if a patient has kidney failure or has suffered any type of head trauma.
Here's how to care for a person after having a grand mal seizure.
- Call for help immediately. Although most seizure patterns are predictable, there is no way of knowing how long a specific seizure will last. If an episode lasts more than five minutes, the patient is at risk for brain damage. Successive seizures place the patient at risk for permanent brain damage or even death. Call 911 right away to get medical attention right away. If you don't wish to call 911, call the patient's doctor to get further instructions.
- Do not try to restrain the patient. You may injure yourself in the process. Do not place your hand or any other object in the person's mouth. Some patients bite their tongue during a seizure but it may be more detrimental to put things in the person's mouth.
- Do not talk to the patient. Before a seizure, the patient loses consciousness so there is no point in making him respond to you. The seizure is an uncontrollable movement so you cannot instruct the patient to calm down or to stop.
- Roll the person to his side. This is done to ensure that air passages remain open during a seizure. If possible, place a small pillow or towel under the person's head to prevent any further head injuries.
- Take note of the time. You must keep an eye on how long the seizure lasts. If there is more than one seizure, note the time between the seizure and how long each episode lasts. Convulsions usually last about ten to fifteen minutes, although it may seem like an eternity to the person caring for the patient.
- Stay with the patient. Once the patient comes around, he will likely be disoriented. Now is the time to talk calmly and let the person know what happened. The patient will be very tired and need help to move him to a more comfortable place, such as his bed.
- Clean up after. Some seizure patients pee in their pants during an attack. If this happens, help the person wash up or take a bath and change to clean clothes. Don't point it out to avoid making the person embarrassed further. Do not leave the patient alone, especially if he will take a bath so he will have help, especially if he experiences another seizure.
If you live with someone who regularly has seizures, make sure everyone in the household knows the protocol of what to do. Let everyone know the instructions of the doctor so that it can be followed, such as making sure the patients takes any medication on a regular basis. Watching someone have a grand mal seizure can be terrifying, but keep your presence of mind and be there to help the patient afterwards.