What Happens During a Seizure?
It can be very frightening if you or someone around you is having an epileptic seizure. To help alleviate some of the anxiety here is some very important, practical information.
What is epilepsy and what is a seizure?
A seizure is usually an unprovoked disturbance of consciousness, behavior, emotion, motor function or sensation as a result of the abnormal, excessive electrical activity in the brain.
Because of this, seizures can affect any process your brain coordinates. Seizure signs and symptoms may include:
- Temporary confusion
- A staring spell
- Uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs
- Loss of consciousness or awareness
- Psychic symptoms
Symptoms vary depending on the type of seizure. In most cases, a person with epilepsy will tend to have the same type of seizure each time, so the symptoms will be similar from episode to episode.
However, not all people who have seizures have epilepsy.
While many types of stereotypical, repetitive behaviors may suggest seizure, a neurology specialist or epileptologist should establish whether or not these are seizures and epilepsy.
The following tips will help you or someone you love that has epilepsy:
- Always carry medical identification. If an emergency happens, knowledge of your seizure disorder can help the people around you to provide the appropriate treatment.
- Remember to take antiepileptic medication and get enough sleep.
- Make sure your family, friends, and co-workers know what to expect when you have a seizure, how to provide first aid and when is necessary to call for emergency help.
- Be alert to possible drug interaction between your antiepileptic medications and other medication you may take, including over the counter drugs. Always follow with your doctor or pharmacist if you are not previously informed what interaction could occur before taking any new medication.
- Choose your sports and other activities wisely. You may want to consider to avoid contact sports especially if your seizures are not well-controlled.
Activities such as baseball, bike riding, swimming, horseback riding or hockey can be made safer by wearing protective gear and life jackets and by having another person with you.
What to do if someone is having a seizure?
- Help the person into a lying position
- Turn the person onto his/her side as soon as possible to help them breathe
- Do not put anything into the person’s mouth or force anything between his/her teeth
- Clear the area around the person of hard or sharp objects
- Remove glasses and loosen any tight clothing
- Do not try to restrain the person, you cannot stop the seizure and you may even injure him/her
- As the person is typically disoriented and confused after the seizures, stay with the person until he/she is fully alert, let him/her rest or sleep and be reassuring as the person is often confused and frighten when consciousness returns
- It is not always necessary to call for medical help. However, if a seizure lasts longer than 5-10 minutes, the person is not breathing, is injured or pregnant, has diabetes or heart condition or if a seizure occurs in water and the person may have inhaled water, consider calling 911.
Who to See
If you are experiencing seizures, please make an appointment with Complete Neurological Care neurologist and epileptologist Dr. Maja Ilic.