Seizures are characterized by uncontrolled shaking movements that may involve some muscles or the whole body. The person during seizures can easily lose balance, sustain head injury and may be unable to maintain his/her airway.  He/she may be better cared of if you have learnt something more about this condition. 

Causes of seizures

There are different types of seizures, and they can be caused by many factors including:

l      Epilepsy

l      Fever

l      Heatstroke

l      Poisoning

l      Alcohol intoxication

l      Hypoglycemia

l      Head injury

l      Cancer

l      Stroke

l      Complications of pregnancy

l      Unknown causes

During seizure, the person may:

l      lose consciousness partially or completely

l      bite his/her own tongue

l      hit onto the surrounding objects

l      lose bowel and/or bladder control, soiling his/her clothing.

l      even cease breathing

l      Not have a patent airway because of secretion, blood from injuries to tongue and collapse/spasm of upper airway.

When you witness a seizure

l      Stay calm. Remember you cannot stop a seizure once it has started.

l      Keep the patient from falling and assist him/her to lie down

l      Roll the patient on his/her side to drain any saliva or blood from mouth

l      Clear the area of hard, sharp, or hot objects to protect the patient from injury.

l      Loosen the patient’s tight neckwear.

Do not:

l      Do not restrain the movement of patient as this may cause injury to the patient

l      Do not put anything between his/her teeth as this may result in dental damage or aspiration or injury to your intervening materials e.g. fingers.

After the seizures have stopped, the patient may:

l      Be fatigue

l      Be sleepy, confused, upset, hostile, or out of touch with reality for up to an hour.

l      Regain consciousness after some time

l      Develop another seizure

As a bystander

you should:

l      Maintain the patient in lateral position if he/she is not awake

l      Give reassurance whenever possible

Do not:

l      Do not give him anything by mouth if he/she is not fully awake

Dial ‘ 999 ’ for an ambulance if

l      A seizure lasts more than 5 minutes or is recurrent

l      The patient has difficulty in breathing

l      Slow recovery.  Unresponsiveness or confusion lasts more than 5 minutes after the seizure has stopped.

l      Patient sustain injuries that warrant medical attention

Gather the following information and report to ambulance personnel in attendance:

l      Time of onset

l      Medical history, e.g. cardiac diseases, diabetes, epilepsy.

l      Medication

l      Age of the victim

l      Duration of seizure

l      Any significant injuries


Patient who has epilepsy is prone to develop seizures.  If you have such medical history, remember to:

l            Take anti-convulsive medication according to doctor’s prescription.

l            Inform your family, classmates/teachers and colleagues about your condition and tell them what help they can offer in case you convulse.

l            Put a card inside your wallet stating your seizure diagnosis and your seizure medication.

Information provided by Fire Services Ambulance Command Training School (11/2002)

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