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First Aid: Seizures

Last week we covered what to do if you ever encounter someone suffering from a stroke, and we’re going to continue talking about the brain, and what to do when things go wrong.

A seizure is abnormal electrical activity in the brain. You may have heard of epilepsy, which is a condition that often causes seizures, but not all seizures are caused by epilepsy. Some can occur if the heart stops beating, or they can happen due to head injury, low blood sugar, heat-related injury, or even poisons.

Most seizures last about a few minutes, and during that time, the victim will lose muscle control, fall to the ground, jerk their arms or legs, and be unresponsive. It is also possible that they might bite their tongue very aggressively during the seizure. You can give first aid for that after they stop seizing.

If you see someone having a seizure, you must always make sure the scene is safe. You do not want them to injure themselves while they are seizing. Move objects out of their way, and place a small pad or towel under their head if you are able to. Call 911 during the seizure.

After the seizure stops, check and see if the person needs CPR. Use the steps we outlined in the “How to Check for Responsiveness” blog post. Give CPR if needed; if you don’t know how, give Hands-Only CPR and stay with the victim until someone with more training or medical personnel arrives. If the victim is vomiting or has fluids in their mouth, roll them onto their side, BUT if you think they might have hurt their head or neck, do NOT move them. You do not want to exacerbate the injury.

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