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Should you restrain a person having a seizure?

Approximately 1 out of 10 people have had a seizure. Because seizures are very common, it’s important to learn what to do to help keep that person safe until the seizure stops.

There are many types of seizures. Most seizures end in a few minutes.

These are general steps to help someone who is having any type seizure:

  • Stay with the person until the seizure ends and he or she is fully awake. After it ends, help the person sit in a safe place. Once they are alert and able to communicate, tell them what happened in very simple terms.
  • Comfort the person and speak calmly.
  • Check to see if the person is wearing a medical bracelet or other emergency information.
  • Keep yourself and other people calm.
  • Offer to call a taxi or another person to make sure the person gets home safely.

A seizure (fit) occurs due to excessive and disorganized electrical activity in our brain. A major seizure occurs when the victim falls to the ground and starts shaking uncontrollably. This is known as a tonic-clonic seizure or a grand mal seizure.

Victims of a major seizure are normally unconscious during the episode and not aware of their surroundings.

There are many myths about the correct first aid treatment for a victim having a seizure. One of these myths is around restraining a victim to stop them from injuring themselves – this is incorrect and potentially dangerous!

  • Do not hold the person down or try to stop his or her movements.
  • Do not put anything in the person’s mouth. This can injure teeth or the jaw. A person having a seizure cannot swallow his or her tongue.
  • Do not try to give mouth-to-mouth breaths (like CPR). People usually start -breathing again on their own after a seizure.
  • Do not offer the person water or food until he or she is fully alert.

Attempting to restrain the victim will not shorten the duration of the seizure or speed up the victim’s recovery. This myth has the potential to cause serious harm to a seizure victim.

The Correct First Aid Steps for a Seizure

The following first aid steps should be carried out for a victim having a major seizure (fit):

  • Call for emergency medical help
  • Move on any bystanders
  • Move away from any potential hazards from the victim and protect their head
  • Once the seizure finishes, roll the victim onto their side and ensure the airway is open and they are breathing
  • Don’t attempt to restrain the victim or place anything in their mouth
  • If the victim stops breathing then start CPR immediately and call for a defibrillator.

CDC Seizure First Aid

 

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