Watching a person having a seizure all of a sudden can be hysterical. So, what to do after a seizure? With the presence of mind and alertness, it can be dealt with easily. First aid to it is the most important thing in its cure.
Seizures are unforeseen and often leave a person feeling that they have no control over their body or their life. They usually last for a minute or two and subside on their own. However, they can render a person weak or unconscious and in need of immediate medical attention. Here’s all you need to about what to do after a seizure.
1. What is a Seizure?
A seizure, formally known as epilepsy, refers to a medical condition that hampers a person’s normal conscious behavior. It is a sudden, abnormal electrical activity in a person’s brain cells.
Usually, a seizure lasts from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. However, If it lasts longer than 5 minutes, it is a medical emergency.
2. Causes of a Seizure
It can be caused due to several factors:
Vascular factors such as Stroke and Hypertension.
Substance abuse and alcohol overdose.
Previous head injury.
Prolonged stress, anxiety, and, depression.
Metabolic factors such as Hypoglycemia and Hypocalcemia.
3. Symptoms of a Seizure
A person having epilepsy can experience:
- Unusual body movements such as jerking
- Loss of awareness
- Trouble breathing
- Changes in smell or taste
- Unconsciousness in extreme cases
Symptoms in younger children can also include oversleeping, stomach ache, and, irritable bowel movements.
4. Types of Seizures
In general, we can categorize epilepsy in two ways:
4.1 Partial Seizure
Also known as focal seizure, It affects a single area in the brain and the affected person does not lose consciousness. It usually occurs in the temporal lobes. During partial epilepsy, a person can experience changing emotions without an abrupt cause, jerking movements in one or more parts of the body, goosebumps, distorted vision, etc. These are quick typically lasting for a few seconds.
Focal seizures can further be classified in 2 ways:
Focal – Retains Awareness
This type of epilepsy can be sensory, motor, autonomic or psychic.
Focal – Altered awareness
This type of epilepsy is usually dyscognitive.
4.2 Generalized Seizure
These affect both hemispheres of the brain at the same time. The seizure usually begins with spasms, twitching, tingling, stiffening, muscle contractions, or, loss of muscle tone. In this category, most seizures usually last for a few minutes. The affected person may remain unconscious for some time depending on the intensity of the seizure.
Generalized seizures can be further classified in four ways:
1. Absence Seizures
The affected person becomes still and usually stares in one direction for 15 seconds or less. It can be detected in young children usually between the ages of four to six. Juvenile absence epilepsy starts slightly later and can persist up to adulthood.
2. Myoclonic Seizures
These are characterized by jerking in arms, legs, head, and, neck. They can sometimes be found as a part of other epilepsy-related additions as well. They are most common in children but can also be found in adults.
3. Tonic and Atonic Seizures
Most of them in this category are usually found in persons having multiple brain injuries or intellectual disabilities. A sequence of a brief tonic episode followed by atonic epilepsy is called tonic atonic epilepsy.
4. Tonic, Clonic, and, Tonic-Clonic Seizures
These can be a result of both partial and generalized seizures. A generalized clonic seizure can occur individually or as a part of some other syndrome such as Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy.
During the tonic phase, The person usually doesn’t react. They become numb or many may suddenly collapse. Their muscles clench and become rigid as a board. During the clonic phase, a series of jerking movements convulse their body.
A generalized tonic-clonic seizure is also known as a grand mal seizure and can last longer than a few minutes leading to unconsciousness of the person.
5. What to Do After a Seizure?
In order to aid epilepsy, the following steps must be kept in mind.
Stay calm and do not panic.
Make a note of the time when the seizure started and when it ended.
Keep the person safe until the epilepsy subsides.
Clear away any potentially dangerous nearby objects like hot drinks or sharp objects in order to prevent injury to oneself or nearby people.
Loosen tight clothing around the neck or waist.
Ensure an open airway and check if they start breathing again and seek medical help immediately.
Protect his or her head by placing something soft underneath or around it in order to prevent the risk of injury.
Do not put anything in the person’s mouth. Do not give food, drinks, or, medications to the patient until they are fully recovered.
Stay fully alert and remain with the person till the seizure ends and they are fully awake. Most of them end in a few minutes.
Call the local emergency medical attention number if:
a. It is a person’s first epilepsy.
b. The cause is unknown.
c. epilepsy lasts longer than 5 minutes. For example when a person recovered from one epilepsy and seized again.
d. The person has difficulty breathing or is unresponsive for more than 10 minutes.
e. The person has sustained an injury.
Once epilepsy subsides and the person gains consciousness, check if he or she has started breathing. Help them get up and gently guide them to a safe place. Give them ample amounts of rest and water to replenish energy. Inform them in very simple terms about the episode so they can look for warning signs and stay safe next time onwards.
Once detected, epilepsy involves a series of treatments. The cause and type of a person’s epilepsy will determine how a physician will treat his or her condition. Seizures can be a common phenomenon in the first year after brain surgery.
Anyone who experiences their first seizure must be taken to the emergency room at once in order to avoid any life-threatening episode. Once relieved, the doctor may advise the person to follow up with their primary care physician or can also refer them to a neurologist.
Treatment usually involves anti-epileptic drugs, surgery to remove the affected area of the brain, a special ketogenic diet, etc. Treatments can last lifelong or may have to be done with after a short period of time.
The recovery period from epilepsy can be challenging. However, With appropriate precautions, it can be surpassed smoothly. The person needs to be very self-conscious during recovery since after-effects can include a sudden urge to bite lips or tongue, uneasiness, etc.
Rinsing your mouth with salt water helps tremendously in specific situations where the person experiences lip or tongue biting. Medically prescribed ointments can also be applied to avoid inflammation.