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What To Do When You See A Seizure



With some seizure types very little first aid may be needed. For example, in a partial seizure guiding someone away from danger may be all that is necessary.


  • Protect the person from injury - move any sharp or hard objects. Guide the person away from danger if she/he is having a partial seizure.

  • Cushion the persons head if they fall down.

  • When the convulsive part of the seizure is at an end, place the person in the recovery position. This will help their breathing.

  • Be quietly reassuring.

  • Stay with the person until she/he has regained full consciousness.

  • Go over any missed events.



  • Try to restrain the person having the seizure.

  • Put anything in the persons mouth or force anything between his/her teeth.

  • Try to move the person unless she/he is in danger.

  • Give the person anything to drink until they have fully regained consciousness.

It is not usually necessary to call for an ambulance when someone has an epileptic seizure.  However, it may be necessary in the following circumstances unless a doctor can attend straight away.

Call for an ambulance if....

  • It is the persons first seizure, the cause of which is uncertain and needs investigation.

  • Injuries have occurred during the seizure, e.g. a cut that needs stitching. 

  • The convulsive part of the seizure shows no sign of stopping after 5 minutes or 2 minutes longer than is usual for that person.

  • If a second seizure occurs without the person regaining consciousness.


 Status Epilepticus

A prolonged seizure or series of seizures without regaining consciousness is called status epilepticus and is a medical emergency.

Lack of normal respiratory movements combined with extreme muscular contractions during a seizure throws stress on the cardiovascular system. The continuing lack of oxygen may lead eventually to brain damage.

Status epilepticus is usually convulsive, but sometimes it can be non-convulsive ie. absence or complex partial status. This will need intervention, although the urgency is not as great. Status epilepticus is a  rare occurrence, except in a very few patients with difficult to control epilepsy.

When status epilepticus occurs a doctor will usually give an intravenous injection of diazepam at the scene of the seizure or in hospital. Other intravenous compounds may be used as an alternative.





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