Seizures come in several forms and may be triggered by any number of underlying problems. In all scenarios, a seizure is caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain, which can vary in severity. While some seizures, like absence seizures, can go unnoticed, other seizures cause noticeable and life-altering symptoms like unconsciousness and convulsions. Additionally, a seizure can be a one-time occurrence, or they can happen frequently, as is the case in disorders like epilepsy. While there is no cure for seizures, they can be managed with proper treatment. Learning about seizure events can help a sufferer’s loved ones provide care during an event.
Types of Seizures
Seizures are typically characterized according to two basic categories: generalized seizures and partial (focal) seizures. A generalized seizure involves abnormal electrical activity that impacts the entire brain. This type is subcategorized into levels of severity, which is as follows:
- Tonic-clonic seizures- also called grand mal seizures, this type is the most commonly observed. During a grand mal seizure, sufferers will stiffen momentarily before the entire body begins to jerk uncontrollably
- Absence seizures- aka petit mal seizures,typically only last a few seconds at a time and cause the sufferer to lose awareness momentarily without convulsing
- Febrile seizures- these seizures are non-epileptic and usually occur in children with high fevers
Partial or focal seizures typically occur in one part of the brain, but they have the capacity to spread to the entire brain. They fall into two categories:
- Focal onset aware seizures- the sufferer remains conscious and is aware of the seizure, which typically lasts only a few minutes.
- Focal onset impaired awareness seizures- the sufferer may become unconscious and may unknowingly perform repetitive tasks like moving a limb, chewing, nodding, etc.
Assisting with a Seizure
If your loved one is experiencing a convulsive seizure, there are a few things you can do to be of assistance during and after the event.
- Ease the person onto the floor, turn them onto their side, and clear away anything they might hurt themselves on.
- Remove eyeglasses or anything around the person’s neck, then place a pillow, folded jacket, or your lap under the person’s head.
- Gently hold the person’s head, allowing them to move but supporting them enough to prevent injury.
- Stay with the person and talk to them in a calm manner, especially after the seizure when they’re beginning to regain consciousness.
- Attempt to hold the person down or restrain their limbs to prevent injury
- Put anything into the person’s mouth! The idea that a seizing person can swallow their tongue is a myth, and putting something into a seizing person’s mouth can break their teeth or jaw.
- Seizures are frightening enough.
- Give the person anything by mouth (CPR, food, or water). Wait until they’re fully alert before offering anything by mouth.
It should also be noted that if the person is epileptic and has had seizures before, it is not necessary to call emergency services unless any of the following conditions are true: the seizure lasts uninterrupted for over five minutes, the person fails to wake up, or something new and concerning has occurred.
For equipment and supplies that can make everyday living more comfortable for your loved one, be sure to visit Medical Supply Depot.