A 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 lose consciousness.
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.
Seizures can be mild to severe, and they affect people differently. Even though you may feel helpless around someone having a seizure, there are many things you can do to help ensure that they receive the best care as quickly as possible:
- Protect the person from injury.
If they are falling try to guide the person gently to the floor. Move furniture or other objects that might injure the person out of the way and try to position the person on his or her side so that fluid can leak out of the mouth. Don’t force anything, including your fingers, into the person’s mouth or try to hold down the person as this can cause them and you injury.
- Stay close.
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.
- Try to remember important medical information.
You may be able to provide valuable feedback to the doctor treating the person having the seizure. During the seizure try to remember how the person’s body moved, how long the seizure lasted, and how the person acted before and after the seizure.
After a seizure has passed, check the person for injuries. If you could not turn the person onto his or her side during the seizure, do so when the seizure ends and loosen tight clothing around the person’s neck and waist to help them relax. 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 help.
Source: Healthwise, “Helping a Person During a Seizure”