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First Aid for Epilepsy

Epilepsy can be an extremely debilitating disease, but many epileptics manage to live normal lives and rarely have a fit. Occasionally however an epileptic may find himself or herself in the unfortunate position of having an epileptic fit in a public place with no one around to help them.

Epilepsy is not contagious, or a spectator sport. Anyone with basic first aid skills can help someone having a fit very easily. The only type of fit you may need to give first aid for is the grand mal seizure. People may have other sorts of seizure, and as a passer by you may not even notice.

If you see some one collapse to the ground and start shaking they may be having a fit. The first thing to do is make sure they need your help. There may well be a companion with them who is better versed in what to do than you are. In this case all you can do is ask if they need an ambulance and offer assistance. This may be as simple as shielding the victim from passers by to save embarrassment.

If there appears to be no one helping the victim first make sure that they are in no danger from their surroundings. Move any thing that can be moved rather than attempting to move the patient. Most patients who are fitting can be moved fairly easily into the recovery position, or at least onto their side. This can be easier if you have some one helping you who also knows how to put some one in this position, but if you know how to do it you can direct some one as to how best to help you. Place something soft under their head if it is a hard surface, but avoid hauling the patient about.

Do not put anything in their mouth. This is an old wives tale, and can cause physical harm. Most fits end fairly quickly, within two minutes. When the patient comes around they will be disorientated and confused for a few minutes. Reassure them and keep them lying down until there consciousness seems fairly clear, then assist them to a sitting position. Ask them if there is any one you should call for them.

You do not need to call an ambulance unless they ask you to, for example if they have never had a fit before, or this one is more severe than usual. If the fit continues for more than two or three minutes, or one fit is followed rapidly by another, then call an ambulance.

The life of epilepsy sufferers would be made much easier if more people understood that it is not contagious, or a sign of mental disease. Simple first aid can be rendered by any one to help some one having an epileptic fit.
by Eve Redstone

First Aid Tips
Identification / look out for:
  • Twitching of limbs, shaking or rigid body.
  • Abnormal eye movements.
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness
  • Unusual breathing pattern.
  • Clenched jaw
  • Frothing at the mouth.
What to do
During Seizure
1. If possible try to ease the patient's fall.
2. Try to protect the head
3. Try to maintain some privacy for the casualty
After Seizure
1. Remove tight clothing.
2. In unconscious patient use the Recovery Position
3. Usually patient recovers on his own in his own time.
4. If time lapsed is more than 10 minutes or if first convulsion, seek immediate medical help / ambulance.
Do not
1. Feed (liquid or solid) by mouth.
2. Gag the patient or put anything in the mouth.
3. Restrain the patient during the attack.