Roughly 1 in 26 individuals develop epilepsy, a situation by which somebody experiences recurring and unprovoked seizures. However experiencing a seizure doesn’t at all times imply an individual has epilepsy. Seizures could be provoked by acute head accidents, alcohol withdrawal and high blood sugar, amongst different issues. Roughly 1 in 10 individuals will experience a seizure during their lifetime.

The Dialog requested Dr. Jacob Pellinen, a neurologist specializing in epilepsy, to stroll us via how you can acknowledge a seizure in a bystander or liked one, and what to do in these essential moments after a seizure begins.

What does a seizure seem like?

It varies. For some individuals, their seizure is a purely inner sensation. To an untrained observer, it could seem as if nothing’s fallacious. In actual fact, most individuals with epilepsy have solely comparatively refined, nonconvulsive seizures at first, then develop convulsive seizures over time.

However others having seizures expertise full physique convulsions with a lack of consciousness. That is the kind of seizure most of us are conversant in, most likely as a result of it’s the sort most ceaselessly depicted, although not at all times precisely, in motion pictures and on tv. It’s additionally the most dangerous type of seizure.

These sorts of seizures are sudden, unprovoked and final a few minutes. After recovering from the convulsions and lack of consciousness, the individual is normally fatigued and confused for several minutes to several hours.

If someone has epilepsy, the seizures they expertise might be very similar each time they occur. The most typical sort of epileptic seizure are these which are focal – that’s, they come up from a confined area of the mind. This accounts for two-thirds of circumstances total and 99% of cases that occur after the age of 25.

Epileptic seizures might start with nonconvulsive signs, together with staring, unresponsiveness, repetitive actions and purely inner sensations, which both cease or progress to convulsions and lack of consciousness.

What causes a seizure to happen?

Seizures are the results of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. The bursts of exercise disrupt regular functioning and provoke hyperactivity within the affected mind space, which then can have an effect on the corresponding physique half.

As an illustration, if the seizure arises from the a part of the mind concerned in arm motion, that arm will expertise involuntary hyperactivity.

An illustration of chaotic brain waves during a seizure event.

Prolonged or back-to-back seizures could be life-threatening.
Kateryna Kon/Science Photo Library via Getty Images

In the event you’re a bystander, how will you assist?

First, keep the person safe. Many seizure-related accidents happen because of falling or coming involved with sharp or laborious objects. If they start to fall, assist them to the ground as gently as attainable and put one thing comfortable beneath their head.

In the course of the convulsive part of a seizure, respiration could also be intermittent. So flip the individual on their facet to allow them to breathe extra simply and decrease the danger of aspiration.

Don’t put any objects into their mouth. That is pointless and harmful. It’s not possible to swallow your tongue.

Don’t restrain or shout at them. Neither a type of issues will cease the seizure.

Though not everybody with epilepsy has one, verify for any seen medical identification reminiscent of a wristband.

In the event that they cease convulsing, however stay unresponsive, proceed to maintain them on their facet and monitor their respiration.

Following the seizure, and because the individual step by step recovers and wakes up, assist them sit up in a protected area. If they’re confused, reorient them and don’t allow them to wander close to roads, stairs or platforms.

Don’t give them water or meals till they’re absolutely awake. Stick with them till they’re absolutely alert. It’s additionally necessary to inform them what occurred, and supply to assist additional.

Holding monitor of time is essential. Name 911 if the seizures final greater than 5 minutes or if they start to cluster again to again, reminiscent of when one other seizure begins earlier than an individual absolutely recovers from the primary. Though uncommon, both of these situations are life-threatening emergencies.

You must also name 911 if the individual continues to have issue respiration; if the individual has a seizure in water or is pregnant; if it’s the primary time they’ve had a seizure; or if they’ve the seizure and not using a prognosis of epilepsy.

Nevertheless, if an individual recognized with epilepsy experiences a routine seizure, recovers absolutely and doesn’t expertise any harm, they could not must go to the emergency room for additional analysis. They need to, nonetheless, name their physician.

Though seeing an individual having a seizure is a scary expertise, there are various issues you are able to do to assist.

Are new therapies obtainable?

Folks with epilepsy, notably those that expertise frequent seizures, will typically have emergency medicines of their possession.

The most typical emergency medicines – also called seizure rescue medications – are a kind of anticonvulsants known as benzodiazepines. The most typical ones used are diazepam, clonazepam, lorazepam and midazolam.

All are fast-acting medicines. Some are capsules to be swallowed, others are dissolvable tablets positioned within the cheek or beneath the tongue, and a few are nasal sprays or gels for rectal administration. Sufferers and their caretakers might have entry to rescue medicines and know how you can use them.

One cautionary observe: If the medicine is in tablet kind, and if the individual is within the midst of a convulsive seizure, don’t put the tablet of their mouth. However keep in mind: Not all seizures are convulsive or trigger a lack of consciousness. So if an individual is awake and alert, they are able to swallow a tablet.

What if it’s not a seizure?

If a bystander doesn’t witness a seizure, however as an alternative finds somebody unresponsive or minimally responsive, name 911. They might be affected by different medical points, reminiscent of a drug overdose.

And in case you are serious about coaching and certification for seizure first assist, or should you merely wish to know extra, the Epilepsy Basis has more information.


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