There are many types of seizures that can affect the entire brain or certain parts of it, causing a wide range of symptoms from loss of consciousness and minor twitching to violent convulsions. The type of seizure that most people are familiar with are known as tonic-clonic seizures, where the person falls down and begins shaking aggressively until the seizure subsides. This is one of the few types of seizures that are classified as major seizures, and knowing how to respond when you notice someone having a seizure can help save their life.
At OC Safety, we help people make a difference in their community, providing them with the skills and knowledge they need to be able to respond quickly and correctly in the event of emergency to protect those around them, whether they are family, friends, or strangers. To make sure you are ready to face the unexpected, below is a detailed guide on what you should do if you see someone having a seizure.
The Stages Of A Common Tonic-Clonic Seizure
The first step of reacting to an emergency is understanding the situation and what you’re dealing with. For the case the of tonic-clonic seizures, they are broken down into two main stages:
- Tonic Stage – the first stage involves a sudden complete or partial loss of consciousness and tightening of the skeletal muscles, often resulting in the patient falling over. It is common for the patient to let out a load moan or other sounds as the air is being expelled from their lungs. This phase typically only lasts for a few seconds.
- Clonic Stage – in the second stage of the seizure, the patient will start to experience convulsions caused by their muscles rapidly contracting and relaxing. The convulsions can vary in terms of their severity, ranging from small, exaggerated twitches to aggressive shaking and stiffened limbs or extremities. Other movement is common during the clonic stage, such as rolling over or stretching out the body and curling back up. Other signs that the patient has entered the clonic stage of the seizure are they eyes rolling back, closing their eyes, and the lips becoming a slight tint of blue.
A full tonic-clonic seizure typically lasts anywhere between 1 and 3 minutes, and is considered a medical emergency if it lasts for over 5 minutes. Recovering from a seizure can take anywhere between a few minutes to several hours, with common symptoms being drowsiness or lethargy.
What Not To Do When Someone Is Experiencing A Seizure
Many onlookers who witness someone having a seizure are often shocked by the rapid, violent convulsions of the clonic stage. For those that have the urge to help, a common assumption that they make is that the convulsions need to be stopped. This gave rose to the myth that you should try to restrain a seizure victim in an attempt to stop the convulsions. In reality, you should never restrain someone who is having a seizure, since it can increase their risk of injuring themselves and possibly injuring you.
The second myth stems from the fact that during a major seizure, the victim is often likely to bite down on their own tongue or the inside of their mouth, which can lead to bruising or soreness as they recover. Someone started spreading the myth that people having a seizure can potentially bite their own tongue off, so to prevent that, you should put something in their mouth during their convulsions. Do not put anything in a victim’s mouth during a seizure, since it can cause them to choke or block their airway when they start to recover.
Step By Step First Aid For Seizure Response
Now that you’re familiar with what happens during a seizure and what not to do, the steps for how to properly care for someone who is experiencing a seizure is rather simple. The steps for responding to a victim having a major seizure are:
- Call for medical help immediately
- Usher bystanders & onlookers away to create space around the victim
- Clear the area of any potential hazards that could injure the victim
- Protect the victim’s head
- Wait until the seizure subsides
- Once the seizure is finished, move the victim so they are laying on their side
- Ensure that they are breathing and there are no obstructions in their airway
- If the victim stops breathing, immediately begin CPR and call for a defibrillator
- Let the victim recover at their own pace. Do not panic or ask rapid questions that could cause the victim stress.
The proper way of helping a seizure victim is to let the seizure run its course, while doing your best to create a safer environment for the victim and ensuring that they can breathe after the seizure has subsided.
Contact OC Safety & Get Prepared!
If you want to be ready to handle the unexpected, contact us at OC Safety or schedule a safety certification course with us. We offer professional on-site safety training and certification programs for CPR, first aid, basic life support (BLS), and more, so you can have the tools and skill that you need to respond to any emergency. If you have questions about the classes that we offer, or about what to do when you see someone having a seizure, just reach out to us and we’ll be happy to provide you with the information you need.