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What to do if someone has a seizure

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What to do if someone has a seizure

Knowing how to help someone during and after a seizure may help you to feel more confident if a seizure happens.

How you can best help someone depends on the type of seizure they have and what happens to them when they have a seizure.

This information gives some simple steps on how to help during and after a seizure. If it is someone you know, they may have told you how you can help them, or you might like to ask them how you can help. 

If it is someone you don’t know, or you don’t know about their epilepsy, follow our basic first aid message: Calm, Cushion, Call (CCC). 

Are all seizures the same?

There are different types of epileptic seizures. How a seizure affects one person might be different from how it affects someone else. 

  • Some people have seizures while they are awake (‘awake’ seizures). Some have seizures while they are asleep (‘asleep’ or ‘nocturnal’ seizures). These names do not describe the type of seizure, just when they happen. 
  • Some people have more than one type of seizure.        
  • Most seizures happen suddenly and without warning, last a short time (seconds or minutes), and stop by themselves.
  • Although people can be injured during a seizure, most people don’t hurt themselves and don’t usually need to go to hospital or see a  doctor. See below for when to call for an ambulance.
  • There are two main types of seizure: focal seizures and generalised seizures. 

Epilepsy Society is grateful to Dr F J Rugg-Gunn Consultant Neurologist & Honorary Associate Professor, Clinical Lead, Chalfont Centre for Epilepsy, who reviewed this information.

Information updated: May 2024

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