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Helpful tips to remember when someone is having a seizure

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On March 17, 2014, Manalapan health Examiner Stacey Chillemi explains to local residents what to do if someone has a seizure.

Helpful tips to remember in case someone is having a seizure are…

  • If you see someone who is having a seizure, stay calm. Although seizures seem like they last forever, they usually do not last longer than 60 to 120 seconds. Time the seizure, if you are able too. If the seizure lasts longer than 3 minutes or the person seizing is having their first seizure or is pregnant (no matter how long the seizure lasts), call 911 right away.
  • Try to protect the person so injury does not occur.
  • If they are standing try to keep them from falling or try to help the person gently to the floor
  • Try to move furniture or other objects away that might injure the person during the seizure.
  • If the person is having a seizure and is on the ground when you arrive, try to position the person on their side so that fluid can leak out their mouth rather than be swallowed or go down the airpipe.
  • Do not put anything, including your fingers, into the person's mouth. Putting something in the person's mouth can cause injuries, such as chipped teeth. There is also a possibility that your finger could be bitten due to strong contractions of the person’s mouth.
  • Do not try to hold down or move the person because this can cause injury, such as a dislocated shoulder.
  • After the seizure…
  • 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 has ended and the person is calm.
  • 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.
  • Loosen tight clothing around the person's neck and waist.
  • Provide a safe area where the person can rest.
  • Do not give the person anything to eat or drink until the person is fully conscious and aware of their surroundings.
  • Stay with the person until they are awake and any confusion they may be experiencing wears off. Most people feel sleepy or confused after a seizure

Byline by Dr. Orrin Devinsky, M.D.: First aid for seizures is essential for family members and others to know. One important and widely under-recognized problem by both doctors and lay individuals is Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy. This is the most common cause of death among people with epilepsy and is almost always caused by a seizure. In many cases the seizure occurs in sleep and the person ends up face down. Although unproven, many believe that some cases can be prevented by simply rolling the person over on their side and stimulating them gently. Alarms to detect seizures are now available but their reliability remains uncertain. For now, use of sound alarms or movement detectors (see www.epilepsy.com/epilepsy/devices_links) should be considered for those individuals at risk for night-time tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizures who sleep alone but there are others in the house. – Dr. Orrin Devinsky, M.D.

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