Seizures are the result of abnormal electrical activity in the brain, leading to temporary and involuntary changes in body movement, function, sensation, awareness, or behavior. If one has 2 or more seizures from an unidentified cause, this is generally known to be epilepsy.

Epilepsy is more common than you might think. Around 3 million people in the United States have epilepsy. So, the chances of you knowing someone with epilepsy could be higher than you realize. Work Right is here to help give you the basics on seizures, what they look like, and what you can do to help if you see someone experiencing a seizure.

Types of Seizures

There are many different types of seizures, and new terms to describe and classify them have been developed by the International League Against Epilepsy. The three major groups of seizures are:

–  Generalized Onset – This term includes seizure types like tonic-clonic (convulsive seizures with loss of consciousness), absence (lapses in awareness), or atonic (also known as drop attacks).

–  Focal Onset – These seizures begin in only one-side of the brain, and are classified as either aware or impaired awareness

–  Unknown Onset – When the beginning of a seizure isn’t known, for example when a seizure happens during sleep or with a person that lives alone, these are classified as an unknown onset seizure.

Signs and Symptoms

The type of seizure someone has depends on their symptoms. General symptoms or warning signs of a seizure can include:

–  Irregular breathing
–  Eyes roll upward
–  Body becomes rigid
–  Loss of bowel and bladder control
–  Convulsions
–  Loss of consciousness
–  Confusion

What Should We Do to Help?

Seizures can occur without warning with little to no symptoms seconds or minutes before the actual seizure. If you observe someone having a seizure, here’s how you can help.

During the seizure:

–  Let the seizure run its course.
Prevent Injury – remove nearby furniture or other object that could cause injury if the person hits them during the seizure.
–  DO NOT try to open their jaws and put anything in their mouth (ex. a belt). This can block their airway and cause further issues.

After the seizure:

–  When the seizure is over, check the person for responsiveness. If responsive, check them from head to toe and place in recovery position. If not responsive, active EMS.

–  Stay with the person until they have fully recovered and are aware of their surroundings.
–  It isn’t unusual for the person to be unresponsive or confused.
–  The person may feel embarrassed upon regaining responsiveness. One symptom of a seizure is the loss of bowel and bladder control.

Although a seizure can be alarming to see, most seizures pass very quickly without too much concern. You can do your part though by familiarizing yourself with the warning signs and symptoms and helping to prevent an injury during the seizure.

Be sure to check out our other blogs for further injury prevention education and tips from Work Right NW!