Epileptic seizures
Signs, symptoms and what to do in the event of an epileptic seizure.
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Written by Sonder Health
Updated over a week ago

In a medical emergency call for an ambulance straight away 000 in Australia, 111 in New Zealand.

The DRSABCD Action Plan is the first step when providing first aid. Use this to assess the immediate situation. DRSABCD Danger > Response > Send for help > Airway > Breathing > CPR > Defibrillation.

Signs and symptoms

A patient having an epileptic seizure may:
• Suddenly cry out
• Fall to the ground, sometimes resulting in injury
• Stiffen and lie rigid for a few seconds
• Have rhythmic jerking muscular movements
• Look very pale and have blue lips
• Have excessive saliva coming out of their mouth
• Sometimes bite the tongue or cheek, resulting in blood in the saliva
• Lose control of their bladder or bowel
• Be extremely tired, confused or agitated afterwards.

What to do
During the seizure
1. Protect the patient from injury by removing any objects that could cause injury.
2. Protect the patient’s head by place something soft under their head and shoulders.
3. Time the seizure.
• DO NOT try to restrain the person or stop the jerking.
• DO NOT put anything in their mouth.
• DO NOT move the person unless they are in danger.

After the seizure
4. Put the patient in the recovery position as soon as jerking stops, or immediately if they have vomited or have food or fluid in their mouth.
5. Manage any injuries resulting from the seizure.
6. DO NOT disturb the patient if they fall asleep, but continue to check their breathing.
7. Calmly talk to the patient until they regain consciousness. Let them know where they are, that they are safe and that you will stay with them while they recover.
8. Call for an ambulance on 000 (AUS) or 111 (NZ) if:
• the seizure continues for more than 5 minutes or a second seizure quickly follows
• the patient remains unresponsive for more than 5 minutes after a seizure stops
• the patient has been injured
• the patient has diabetes or is pregnant
• you know, or believe it to be the patient’s first seizure.

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All content in Sonder's Help Centre is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Information originally published by St John Ambulance Australia.

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