Tips on how to identify and deal with seizures. The ninth part in the series on handling common medical emergencies.

Seizures or fits are sudden jerky movements or stiffening of the body caused due to abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Seizures can also present as sudden brief staring episodes or sudden loss of consciousness. Seizures are not communicable, i.e. they cannot spread from person to person.

When a person suffers from recurrent episodes of seizures, it is called epilepsy. These may occur at different intervals. With proper medical advice and medication, the frequency can be reduced. A person suffering from epilepsy should avoid operating heavy machinery, going near water bodies, driving, handling fire.

Causes

Head injury

Low blood sugar

Lack of oxygen (Hypoxia)

Stroke in elderly

High grade fever (in children from six months to six years)

Brain tumor or infection

In children less than four years high-grade fever can lead to febrile seizures.

Symptoms

Shaking of the body due to the repeated contraction and relaxation of muscles.

The body may become rigid.

Sudden falling.

Clenching of jaw.

Drooling or frothing at the mouth.

Eyeballs roll upwards

Loss of bowel and bladder control.

Warning signs

Fear or anxiety.

Nausea

Vertigo

Visual symptoms (flashing or bright lights, spots or wavy lines before the eyes.)

Do’s

Stay with the person until the seizure stops naturally.

If the person is falling, try to break the fall.

Clear the area around and remove potentially dangerous items.

Place soft padding under his/her head.

Loosen clothing around the neck to help him/her breathe more easily.

When the seizures end, turn the patient gently into the recovery position to keep the airway clear.

Reassure the patient as consciousness returns as he/she may be disoriented.

In case of a child with febrile seizures try to reduce temperature by tepid sponging and seek immediate medical attention.

Don’ts:

Do not restrain the patient. You cannot stop the seizures.

Do not place anything in the patient’s mouth.

Do not move the patient unless he/she is in danger or near something hazardous.

Do not give the patient anything to eat and drink until the seizures stop and the patient is fully awake and alert.

Do not force the patient to smell a shoe, socks or onion! These are myths and do not help at all.

Do not rely on quacks to cure the seizures with miracle mantras.

Extract from Medical Emergency Handbook, VIVO Healthcare, Rs.199. To buy the book, contact VIVO Healthcare, DLF City Club, DLF City Phase 4, Gurgaon 122009. Ph: +91-124-4365848 +91-8860004734. E-mail: enquiry@vivohealthcare.com or info@vivohealthcare.com