Everyone should know what to do when they see someone having a seizure.
Epileptic seizures can be divided into two main types: focal seizures and generalised seizures. Seizures can vary from one person to another and how people are affected and how they recover after seizures varies. How you can best help someone during a seizure depends on what type of seizure they have and how it affects them.
Although seizures can be frightening to see, they are not usually a medical emergency. Usually, once the seizure stops, the person recovers and their breathing goes back to normal.
Everyone is individual and people react in different ways to their seizures and in how they recover. Some people cannot remember what happened to them during a seizure, some like to be talked to during their seizures and as they recover, and some need to sleep afterwards.
You may be able to help someone with epilepsy if you know about their seizures. Here are some questions to help you.
A person's seizures usually last the same length of time each time they happen and stop by themselves. However, sometimes seizures do not stop or one seizure follows another without the person recovering in between. If this goes on for 5 minutes or more it is called status epilepticus or ‘status’.
If you need to make a call to the emergency services (999 in the UK) on an Android or iPhone device, there are ways to automatically send your GPS location to the emergency services at the same time.
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Information updated: December 2021
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