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First aid: Dealing with Seizures

A seizure is a fit or convulsion. It happens when something interrupts the electrical activity in the brain, causing muscles to contract uncontrollably and often leading to unconsciousness. It’s a common sign of epilepsy.

Check the person’s responsiveness and that they are breathing. Protect them from hurting themselves during the fit, and also look out for:

  • Sudden loss of consciousness
  • A stiff body with an arching back
  • Difficult breathing
  • Jerky uncontrolled movements
  • Loss of bladder and bowel control

If you see someone having a seizure, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Don’t restrain or move them.
  2. Protect them from hurting themselves. Clear away any dangerous objects to keep them safe.
  3. Make a note of when the seizure started and how long it lasts.
  4. Place something soft under their head for protection  and loosen clothing around their neck.
  5. When the seizure stops, they may fall asleep.
  6. Once asleep, open their airway and check their breathing.
  7. If they’re breathing, put them in the recovery position.
  8. If they stop breathing, give CPR as you would for someone who’s unconscious and not breathing.

Call 999 if it’s their first seizure, if they’re having repeated seizures, if the fit lasts more than 5 minutes, or if they’re unconscious for more than 10 minutes.

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