Epilepsy awareness

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Although reasons vary, the most common cause of seizure among adults is epilepsy.

Seizures can be sudden, dramatic and upsetting to watch.
Care should be taken to protect the casualty from harm.
The steps below show how to recognise a seizure and how to best treat somebody you think is suffering from one.
Recognising an epileptic seizure
The following sequence of events is common among people having a seizure.

  • They suddenly lose consciousness.
  • Their body becomes rigid, arching their back.
  • Their breathing may be noisy and become difficult.
  • The casualty could experience loss of bladder control.

Usually, after a few minutes the muscles will start to relax and breathing will return to normal. When they recover consciousness, they may feel dazed or act strangely.
Following a seizure, the casualty may feel very tired; they may fall into a deep sleep.
Treating an epileptic seizure
During the seizure there is no specific ‘treatment’ that can be administered to a casualty. You should just try and stop the casualty from suffering any additional injuries by making sure the area around them is safe. Have a look at the Epileptic Australia website for more detailed information on seizure management.
You should:

  • protect their head by placing soft padding underneath
  • loosen any tight clothing
  • place them into the recovery position once the convulsions have stopped
    monitor their vital signs and level of response
  • if possible, take note of when the seizure started and how long it lasted
    if the seizure lasts for more than five minutes, call 000.

This and many other first aid skills are included in our Provide first aid course