What first aid should you give when you witness someone having an epileptic seizure?
- Epilepsy is a common neurological condition that results in seizures. In France, around 600,000 people have epilepsy. Half of them are under 20 years old, with this disease being more common in children and the elderly. The exact cause of epilepsy can vary, but it often results from brain damage or genetics.
- We distinguish between generalized epilepsies (a third of cases), during which the affected neurons propagate the anomaly throughout the brain, and partial epilepsies which remain very localized in the region of origin.
- Knowing how to recognize the symptoms of an epileptic seizure can help provide first aid: protect the person’s head, turn their body to the side, give any rescue medication, etc.
A person who suddenly screams, loses consciousness, falls suddenly to the ground and contorts spasmodically… Epileptic seizures, a chronic brain disease, are characterized by transient physical manifestations which result from sudden electrical discharges and excessive nerve impulses in the brain, real “lightning bolts” traveling through numerous neurons, indicates Health Insurance.
How can we help someone who is having a seizure in front of our eyes? In a article published on the website of the hospitals of the University of Kentucky (United States), the neurologist Dr. Jordan Clay, Kentucky Neuroscience Institutereminds you of the good reflexes to have.
What happens in the brain during an epileptic seizure
“During a seizure, the electrical activity of the brain goes crazy, that is, the electrical impulses, by which neurons communicate, become chaotic”explains the specialist.
This electrical storm under the skull can cause a number of different symptoms depending on which areas of the brain are affected. Among the most common: muscle contractions that lead to jerks or convulsions; loss of consciousness (and often the ensuing fall); the gaze lost in space; or even a feeling of strange sensations (smells, tastes, impressions, etc.).
Knowing how to recognize these signs, warning or not, can help provide first aid without delay, particularly when the attack does not stop on its own after a few minutes and can then end the person’s life. in danger.
What first aid in the event of an epileptic seizure?
– Stay with the person until the crisis is over, being as calm as possible.
– Protect their head, by gently guiding the person towards the ground (if they are not already there) and placing a “pillow” under their neck to avoid injury.
– Make sure there are no dangers nearby, such as sharp objects.
– Turn the person onto their side if they are on the ground: the side safety position reduces the risk of suffocation in the event of vomiting or salivation.
– Keep temporality in mind: if the attack lasts more than five minutes or if another one follows immediately, it is necessary to call a doctor.
– Read the instructions and give the “rescue medicine”, often a nasal spray, if the person has one.
– Systematically call a doctor in the event of complications after the end of the attack, such as injury or breathing difficulties.
Also be careful, warns the neurologist, of preconceived ideas about managing an epileptic attack! So, contrary to popular belief, it is better not to hold the person having a seizure (but rather to let the seizure take its course), not to put anything in their mouth (at the risk of the person getting hurt) , or even do not pour water on his face (this will not stop the attack).