A seizure is a symptom of abnormal, neuronal activity in the brain. It can cause sudden, involuntary contraction of a group of muscles, along with possible unconsciousness. People who experience seizures are usually diagnosed with epilepsy, though other times they may be due to other causes such as sleep deprivation, withdrawal from drugs, or infection (example: encephalitis or meningitis).
If you witness somebody experiencing seizures due to her previously diagnosed condition, here are the steps to treat her:
- Loosen any clothing around a person's neck. This is especially true if the victim is wearing scarves, collared shirts, or anything else that can inhibit her ability to breathe freely.
- Allow the person to move. Do not restrain the person; allow her to move, just making sure that you cushion her head with something soft (a pillow or sweatshirt will do; if there aren't any available, your hands) to avoid any impact. Also, ask somebody to remove any objects within the vicinity that could possibly injure her while she is experiencing seizures.
- Do not touch the person's mouth or put anything in it. It is a common belief that people experiencing seizures might swallow their tongue; this is not true. Never put anything in the victim's mouth, not even liquid or medicine, to avoid choking the victim.
- Monitor and closely observe the seizure as it happens. Be aware of how long the seizure lasts; the movements of the victim; and other symptoms that you could possibly report to a medical attendant once an ambulance or a medical team has arrived. Discuss these also with the victim's doctor. These observations will greatly help the doctor in assessing the victim's condition and possibly modify the victim's treatment plan.
- Also, be aware that if the victim's seizure lasts less than 5 minutes, it is not necessary to call an ambulance (though it's always best to err on the side of caution). A seizure that lasts more than 5 minutes constitutes a medical emergency; a victim should carry medicine such as diazepam or buccal midazolam, which are administered through the rectum.
- Clear the victim's surroundings. Many people may be tempted to watch as the victim experiences the seizures; tell them to keep calm and to keep a clear area around the victim to enable her to breathe freely.
- Reassure the victim. Once the victim's seizure stops, you may need to reassure her that everything is okay and that she shouldn't feel embarrassed about what happened.
- Consult a physician. Report the seizure to the victim's physician; include all observed behavior, length of time, specific conditions before and during the seizure. Consult for possible modification to the victim's treatment plan.
It's always best to be prepared for the eventuality of a seizure if somebody you know is diagnosed with such a condition as epilepsy. When it does happen, maintain a clear mind, remember the ways to treat seizures, and remember that doing so is very manageable and simple enough to do.