Epilepsy FAQs

Epilepsy FAQs

What to do if someone has a seizure?

It can happen that you may bear witness or be required to act when a person has a seizure, whether you know the person or not. Here are helpful steps you can take to help handle the incident with the best care possible.

At the beginning of a seizure:

  • Your first instinct may be to try and hold or restrain a person having a seizure. This will not calm them down or stop the seizure and can injure both you and the person affected. Try and remain as calm as possible and do not attempt to restrict their movement. 
  • If necessary, try to loosen any clothing around or near a person’s neck to prevent possible injury or interference with their breathing ability. Carefully place something soft beneath a person’s head.
  • If there are others around you, request that they not crowd the person and allow them room. You may need to ask others to help you remove objects which may cause injury, such as furniture or other objects in the nearby vicinity if the person is experiencing convulsions.
  • Do not try and place your fingers or anything else in a person’s mouth in an attempt to keep them from swallowing their tongue. This is actually an old wives’ tales and in reality, is physically impossible and trying to prevent this will cause unnecessary injury.
  • Call for medical assistance.
  • Stay with the person having the seizure and observe their movements and behaviours during the seizure, retaining details you can share with medical personnel when they arrive. Time the seizure if you can and note how many occurred if multiple seizures occur. Clusters of attacks can happen. Be mindful of this possibility. This will help with effectively handling the person and administering appropriate treatment which can be life-saving.

After the seizure

  • Gently place a person on their side to help open their airway and prevent them from inhaling any secretions that may have occurred during the seizure.
  • Be aware of any injuries that may have occurred during the seizure, especially any bleeding wounds or fractures (broken bones). Take care in handling the person so as to not cause any further injury and control any bleeding with a little applied pressure to a wound.
  • Once a person regains consciousness or gradually returns to their normal senses, they may be confused and have difficulty understanding what has just happened to them. They may not be able to answer any questions either. You can try and give them reassurance that help is on the way and that you won’t leave their side. Remain at the person’s side until medical personnel arrive to take over.
  • It is best not to try and give a person liquids to drink following a seizure.
  • If another seizure occurs, repeat the steps as necessary.

What is the outlook for someone with epilepsy?

Is epilepsy curable?

No, there is no cure for epilepsy, but medical treatment can effectively manage the condition and help a person to lead a careful, but relatively healthy lifestyle. As long as seizures are carefully controlled, a person can live a long and productive life.

Even severe cases of epilepsy treated with surgery have been seen to have a high success rate. Many can become virtually seizure-free following surgery, or have very few incidents. Research continues around the world to try and develop better treatment options, as well as a potential cure. For the moment, treatment options with careful monitoring can significantly improve a person’s quality of life.

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