How to help someone with seizures
In Britain, there is a Great Dane who is reported to sense the seizures of a toddler in his house. He detects it in advance and leads her to a safe spot, helps her lie down and stays with her until the seizure is over.
If dogs can do it, can humans? Our expert weighs in on what you can do if someone has an epileptic seizure.
According to the Epilepsy Foundation, the most important goal of seizure care is to keep the person safe until the seizure stops naturally by itself.
Dr. Prashanti Boppana, neurologist with Advocate Medical Group in Glenview, Ill., says that the following are some of the most important things to remember when providing aid for seizures:
- Help ease the person to the floor so they are lying down
- Position the person on his or her side to keep him or her from choking if excessive drooling or vomiting occurs
- Loosen tight clothing, especially around the neck
- Put something soft under his or her head
- Clear the area of anything sharp or dangerous
- Stay with the person until the seizure ends
- Do NOT put anything in the mouth
- Do NOT try to restrain the person or try to stop the movements
Dr. Boppana says that timing the seizure can also be helpful. Emergency responders may ask how long the seizure lasted and how long the person was unconscious.
The Epilepsy Foundation recommends calling 911 if the following occur:
- This is the first occurrence of a seizure
- The person is injured or hit his or her head
- The seizure occurred in the water
- The convulsive portion of the seizure lasted more than 5 minutes
- A second seizure occurs soon after the first
- The person is unconscious for more than 5 to 10 minutes
- The person has diabetes or is pregnant
Dr. Boppana says that oftentimes after an active seizure, there is an altered state of consciousness that can last from five to 30 minutes or more.
“During that time, the person may be groggy or even still unconscious,” she says. “The best thing you can do is to be there to help calm and reorient the person until he or she regains full consciousness and awareness.”
Dr. Boppana says that other ways to help include:
- Offer to call a taxi, friend or relative to help the person get home safely
- Offer to provide information about what you witnessed; doctors will want to know what happened, and the person who experienced it may not have a good recollection
How can you know if someone has epilepsy?
Many people who have been diagnosed with epilepsy will wear a medic alert bracelet on the wrist or around the neck. If you see someone who is having a seizure or is acting strangely or “spacing out,” Dr. Boppana says you may want to look for this type of bracelet.
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