Seizures: first aid
How to help during a seizure
- If a person is having a small fit — for example, where the person seems to ‘tune out’ but doesn’t fall to the ground or appear to lose consciousness — talk calmly and reassure the person, and repeat any information they have missed during the seizure. Lead them somewhere safe, if necessary.
- If they are having a big fit — for example, falling to the ground with loss of consciousness and jerking body movements — don’t restrain them. Make sure there is nothing they can hurt themselves on, put something soft under their head and shoulders and loosen their clothing if it’s constricting their breathing.
- If they have vomited, lie them on their side so that any fluid can easily flow out of their mouth and not obstruct breathing.
- Do NOT put anything in their mouth or force their mouth open: this may damage the area. They will not swallow their tongue.
- Do NOT move them unless they are in a dangerous position.
- When the fit is over, turn them on their side, reassure them, tell them where they are and that they have had a fit. It is likely they will be quite drowsy for a few minutes after the seizure.
- Do NOT disturb the person if they fall asleep after a seizure, but keep checking for signs of life.
- Call an ambulance if a person is having their first seizure, if the jerking doesn’t stop within 5 minutes (or if another seizure happens soon after the first), if they have trouble breathing after the jerking stops, if they have diabetes, if they are pregnant, if they have been injured, or if you are in doubt for any reason.
- Watching someone have an epileptic fit is very frightening — it can seem to go on forever; stay very calm and try not to panic.
Last Reviewed: 09 November 2009
- 1. Epilepsy Action Australia [website]. Seizure smart - response (2005, July). http://www.epilepsy.org.au/fact_sheets/Managing%20Epilepsy/Seizure%20Smart%20-%20Response.pdf (accessed 2009, Nov 12)