The term seizure refers to a sudden malfunction or a temporary disturbance of the brain that causes a person to convulse or collapse. It can also include uncontrollable muscle spasms, loss of consciousness, or unusual sensations depending on the part of the brain suffering from the malfunction.
Some seizures may be hard to notice since they do not involve abnormal body movements. They may consist of staring spells, change in consciousness resulting to memory loss or exaggerated emotions. During a seizure, a patient experiences abnormal sensations, a change in vision which may include flashing lights, loss of muscle control, a bitter taste, and unexplainable emotional dysfunction.
The decrease in the blood flow to the brain is the main cause of seizures since it results in abnormal electrical discharges in the brain. In some cases, seizures do not have clarity on what causes them. Some seizures are symptoms of other medical conditions such as a head injury, abnormally low blood sugar, and poisoning or accidental drug overdose. Brain tumors or anything that can cause a sudden reduction of blood flow or oxygen in the brain cause the seizures. Seizures occurring in a sequence of more than once or over and over result in the patient being diagnosed with the ongoing condition; epilepsy.
Emergency First Aid for a Seizure Victim
If a person gets a sudden seizure attack; do not force an object such as a tongue depressor or a spoon in between his or her teeth as it can add to the damages. It can injure their mouth since the victim is unaware of the conscious world. The uncontrolled spasms can make them bite themselves and pushing an object into their mouth only results in more harm.
The victim should not be held down during the seizure because the spasms are involuntary. However, people near them can prevent a fall by carefully laying the victim on the ground. The head can be cushioned, and tight clothing especially around the neck should be loosened. Holding them down can lead to injury from broken limbs or even injury to the person holding them down. However, it is paramount to protect the person from injury. This can be done by removing any dangerous objects around them such as furniture, water, and appliances.
Most of the seizures stop themselves when they are over. The victim may be injured in the process and the blood vomit or fluid can get access to their lungs and cause a lack of oxygen. CPR must not be performed to a person in the process of having a seizure, but it can be applied to a victim who cannot breathe on their own after the seizure is over. The person should be turned onto his or her side, if they vomit during the seizure or after the seizure is over to aid them to breathe again.
If the person gets a seizure while in water, remove them from the water immediately and administer drowning first aid treatment. Ensure that they have a pulse and that they can breathe. Cover the victim, with a blanket and call for emergency health professionals.
Some seizures can result in fatal injuries such as burning or broken limbs. It is advisable not to move the victim if there are signs of injury. First aid can be administered to stop bleeding if any; by applying pressure on the wound or cooling burns by pouring clean, cold water on them. Meanwhile, seek professional medical help.
Most victims of seizures lose consciousness during the seizure. Stay with the person until they receive professional health care help, or they recover fully. After close assessment, they can be trusted to walk or get back to normal functions. In the meanwhile, you should monitor their vital signs. Check whether they have a steady pulse and that they are able to breathe on their own. If it is a child or infant and they have a high fever, the child should be cooled with the gradual use of tepid water. Do not use cold water as it can result in temperature shock and lead to worse seizures.
Patients with the possibility of getting seizures should be closely monitored especially children. Be on the lookout for temporary stopping in breathing, sudden falling, anxiety, teeth clenching, brief black outs or unusual behavior like sudden anger or laughter and uncontrollable muscle spasms. Their guardians should ensure that fevers are under control. Those with medical prescriptions should take them without missing a dose, and they should always wear a tag which identifies their illness to alert anybody within their reach.
Victims with chronic cases of seizures should stay away from the possible triggers of seizures. These include; alcohol use, loud places with flashing lights, sudden temperature change, stressing or overly exiting situations. If they are caused by existing conditions such as head injury, low-blood sugar, electric shock, heart disease, meningitis, uremia, fever, venomous bites, chocking, or unusually high blood pressure, the victim is advised to keep the pre-existing factor in check.
When to Call for Emergency Services
Some seizure victims, for example, epilepsy victims have been used to getting seizures for a prolonged period thus they recover and bounce back to their lives after an attack. However, it is not safe to assume that they will always bounce back. Professional medic care experts should be called immediately if any of the following happens:
• If it's the first time the person has suffered from a seizure, he or she should be rushed to hospital so that the cause of the seizure is established.
• If a seizure lasts for more than 2 to 5 minutes which results in the brain having an acute lack of oxygen that is dangerous for the body. The brain is a delicate organ that needs a constant and stable supply of oxygen. 5 minutes is too long for the brain to lack oxygen, because this can result in brain damage or death.
• If the seizure has different attributes compared to the previous ones that the victim has had, this could result or lead to more medical problems thus indicating that the person needs medical attention.
• Seizures usually last a few minutes and the victim should regain consciousness after they are over. If the person does not awaken from the seizure or get back to normal behavior, then they need medical attention.
• If the person is injured during the seizure they will need medical attendance, whether it is a result of falling on objects, chocking, biting themselves etc.
• If the person has a chronic condition such as diabetes, cancer or another condition, he or she is advised to seek medical care after they get a seizure. The same applies to recovering accident victims and pregnant women.
• Cold water triggers seizures in epileptic victims. If a person gets a seizure while in water, they should be immediately removed from the water and given drowning first aid. Lay him or her on the side if the water did not get in their lungs, but if it did, tilt their head and pump the water out and administer CPR. Meanwhile, call 911 immediately since it is extremely dangerous for a seizure victim.
Most seizure victims who often get attacks carry a medical I. D or bracelet with instructions of what to do when an attack occurs. If they do not have any of the above, call 911 and help the victim to get professional assistance.