Briefly describes seizures. Lists ways to help someone during and after a seizure. Covers things to watch for during a seizure as well as when to seek medical attention.
Helping a Person During a Seizure
If you see someone who is having a seizure, stay calm. Although
seizures seem to last a long time, they usually do not last more than 60 to 90
seconds. Time the seizure, if you can. If the seizure lasts longer than 3
minutes or the person seizing is pregnant (no matter how long the seizure
lasts), call 911 or other emergency services immediately.
seizure can be terrifying to watch, especially if
you've never seen one before. A seizure temporarily interferes with muscle
control, movement, speech, vision, or awareness. It may cause a person's entire
body to shake violently for a few seconds to a few minutes, and he or she may
Seizures can be mild to severe, and they
affect people differently. Even though you may feel helpless around someone
having a seizure and find it difficult to watch, there are many things you can
do to help.
How to help during a seizure
Protect the person from injury.
Keep him or her from falling if you can,
or try to guide the person gently to the floor.
Try to move
furniture or other objects that might injure the person during the
If the person is having a seizure and is on the ground
when you arrive, try to position the person on his or her side so that fluid
can leak out of the mouth. But be careful not to apply too much pressure to the
Do not force anything, including your fingers,
into the person's mouth. Putting something in the person's mouth may cause
injuries to him or her, such as chipped teeth or a fractured jaw. You could
also get bitten.
Do not try to hold down or move the person. This
can cause injury, such as a dislocated shoulder.
How to help after a seizure
Check the person for injuries.
you could not turn the person onto his or her side during the seizure, do so
when the seizure ends and the person is more relaxed.
If the person
is having trouble breathing, use your finger to gently clear his or her mouth
of any vomit or saliva. If this does not work, call for emergency
Loosen tight clothing around the person's neck and
Provide a safe area where the person can
Do not offer anything to eat or drink until the person is
fully awake and alert.
Stay with the person until he or she is
awake and familiar with the surroundings. Most people will be sleepy or
confused after a seizure.
Things to watch for during a seizure
You may be
able to provide valuable feedback to the doctor treating the person having the
seizure. Try to remember:
How the person's body moved.
long the seizure lasted.
How the person acted before the
How the person acted immediately after the
Whether the person suffered any injuries from the
When to seek emergency help
Seizures do not always require urgent care. But
call 911 or other emergency services immediately if:
The person having a seizure stops breathing
for longer than 30 seconds. After calling
911 or other emergency services, begin
The seizure lasts longer than 3 minutes. (The person may have
entered a life-threatening state of prolonged seizure called
This is the person's first seizure or if you don't know if the person has epilepsy.
The person seizing is
pregnant (no matter how long the seizure lasts). This could be a sign of
More than one seizure occurs within 24 hours.
person having a seizure does not respond normally within 1 hour after the
seizure or has any of the following symptoms:
Reduced awareness and wakefulness or is
not fully awake
Inability to walk or
A seizure occurs after the person complains of
a sudden, severe headache.
A seizure occurs with
signs of a stroke, such as trouble speaking or
understanding speech, loss of vision, and inability to move part or all of one
side of the body.
A seizure follows a head injury.
diabetes has a seizure. Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
or very high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) can cause seizures in a person who has
A seizure occurs after eating poison or breathing
The person complains of severe pain after waking up or develops
a fever within 24 hours of the seizure.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.