What first-aid should be given during a seizure?

How long does a seizure last? What is “Status Epilepticus”?

Almost all seizures end in about 1 minute.

Rarely, seizures may go on for a much longer period of time. If a seizure goes on for more than 5 minutes, the patient is said to be in a condition called “Status Epilepticus”Status Epilepticus is a medical emergency – the patient needs to be given rescue medications to stop the seizure immediately. Such a patient needs to be rushed to the nearest hospital immediately.

When many seizures happen one after the other in rapid succession, then again the person is said to be in Status Epilepticus. This again is a medical emergency.

Although any epilepsy patient may get Status Epilepticus, it is uncommon and unlikely to happen if you have not had prolonged seizures before. As mentioned in the first line of this answer, almost all (>90%) of seizures end in about 1 minute or less.

What are the 2 most common reasons for harm during a seizure?

Most seizures do not result in permanent bodily harm.

There are two main reasons for bodily harm during a seizure. These are worth highlighting:

Two reasons for bodily harm during a seizure
1. Trauma due to hitting body parts
2. Aspiration / Choking

The entire concept of first-aid during a seizure is to prevent these two things.

What can I do to prevent aspiration?

When a foreign body goes into the wind-pipe or lungs, it is called aspiration. If the foreign body is large enough (e.g. a stick or coin) it may block the wind-pipe leading to choking. If it is a liquid – such as the person’s own vomit – then it may go into the lungs and produce an infection of the lungs (pneumonia).

In summary: Aspiration is to be prevented at all costs.

Thus, for preventing aspiration:

  • Do NOT put anything into the mouth of the patient while he/she is having a seizure.
  • Do NOT put your hand in the patient’s mouth – your fingers could be cut off.
  • Turn him/her to one side, so that any vomit flows out from the mouth.
  • After you are absolutely sure that the seizure has ended completely, you can remove any large food objects in the mouth.
  • Do NOT give the patient any food or water until the seizure ends completely and he/she is completely conscious.

What can I do to prevent injuries during a seizure?

If the patient has frequent seizures, then some preparation to avoid injuries is justified.

  • Try to avoid furniture with glass or very hard metal corners which can result in injury.
  • Consider carpeted floors or wood floors instead of stone floors.
  • In children who have multiple daily seizures with drop-attacks, consider using a plastic helmet at all times to prevent head injury.

As soon as you see a seizure happening:

  • Try to prevent the patient from falling and hitting the ground hard.
  • If possible, ease him/her to the ground.
  • Remove all surrounding hard furniture.

Should I video-tape the seizure on my smartphone?

The eyes can only see what the mind already knows, and additionally, human memory is fallible.

Especially if there are two people around it makes perfect sense to record the seizure in it’s entirety, from beginning to end.

While recording, make sure that the entire body is visible. Do not change the camera angle excessively and do not end the video recording before the seizure ends. In fact, even after the seizure ends talk to the patient – ask him/her his/her name, what happened, and ask him/her to name a few things around the house and finally to hold up both arms.

A good video recording can provide completely invaluable information to your treating physician. If you bring 2-3 (or even more!) such video recordings to your doctor, the nature of your seizures becomes crytal clear. This helps tremendouly in choosing medications and if required, considering surgery.

This is a lot of information! How do I remember this in an emergency?

Don’t worry: Click on the image below to download it. Print it and put it up in your home.



Epilepsy A4 English

Caution: This information is not a substitute for professional care. Do not change your medications/treatment without your doctor's permission.
Dr. Siddharth Kharkar

Dr. Siddharth Kharkar

Dr. Siddharth Kharkar has been recognized as one of the best neurologists in Mumbai by Outlook India magazine and India today Magazine. He is a board certified (American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology certified) Neurologist.

Dr. Siddharth Kharkar is a Epilepsy specialist in Mumbai & Parkinson's specialist in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.

He has trained in the best institutions in India, US and UK including KEM hospital in Mumbai, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), USA & Kings College in London.

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NeuroPlus Epilepsy & Parkinson's Clinic - Dr. Kharkar IconNeuroPlus Epilepsy & Parkinson's Clinic - Dr. Kharkar

near LIC, Dr Balabhai Nanavati hospital, near LIC, Swami Vivekananda Road, LIC Colony, Vile Parle

4.6 87 reviews

  • Avatar Paras Prabhu ★★★★★ 6 months ago
    Out patient is epileptic from about 10 years and her seizure gotten worse during the past year with the frequency of about 3-4 times a week.So we consulted … More Dr. Kharkar. He tried a few medicines, and within 1.5-2 months now the patient is feeling very well now. There are no seizures for 14 days currently.Dr. tried to keep medicines as minimum as possible. He also tried to keep the cost of the treatment minimum.When some of the medicines started showing side-effects, he was quick to switch the medicines to the better options.Overall I think we are getting a best of the available treatments. We thank you very much Dr. Kharkar.
  • Avatar Dr Shobha Sankhe ★★★★★ a month ago
    Dr Kharkar is gem of a doctor with tremendous patience, empathy, genuine concern for his patients .He guides them very methodically & scientifically … More for their neurological ill healthOur epilepsy patient is extremely happy with his treatment , Patient feels better by just visiting him too!May his selfless service to humanity flourish to reach all the needy patients!!
  • Avatar shrruti khanna ★★★★★ a month ago
    I consulted Dr Sidharth for my sister who has become very hyper and aggressive and we could not understand the issue. Keeping in mind she is someone with … More special needs Dr Sidharth was extremely understanding of the situation and did not put her through unnecessary investigation and avoided a very long stay at the hospital. He was infact more keen on her returning home to her natural environment. We highly appreciate Dr Sidharth for his effort and for looking into the matter with utmost care. It was a very difficult decision for my family to get my sister admitted but we are glad we did it under his care.Thankyou Doc.
  • Avatar Prashant Purohit ★★★★★ a month ago
    my name is prashant purohit. I m become completely bed ridden from last 9 months and was unable to walk. I couldnt find out the cause even after visiting … More many doctors and many hospital in Ahmedabad nd jodhpur.started losing hope. A good friend of mine suggested to visit a neurologist. After searching a lot, I came to know about Dr. Siddharth Kharkar and took his appointment in Nanavati Hospital. He examined and said that he suffered from \u201cPKD(PAROXYSMAL KNESIGENIC DYSKNESIA\u201c. He assured us to reverse this in 5 days time. And indeed this happened. I started recovering miraculously. today I am fully well fit I m walking as normal . Many Many thanks to Dr. Siddharth Kharkhar sir for giving me a new life.
  • Avatar Sanjay Pradhan ★★★★★ 7 months ago
    Dr. Kharkar is truly exceptional. He is extremely knowledgeable. But simultaneously, he is extremely patient and kind - taking the time and care to respond … More to all the questions. It is rare to come across a doctor who is not in a hurry to get on to the next patient, but instead, focuses on the one in front with full attention, expertise and compassion. A great experience.
  • Avatar N N ★★★★★ a year ago
    We visited Dr. Kharkhar for treatment regarding my mum - who is a multi-stroke patient and has aphasia. Certain medications were creating complications … More with her condition and Dr. Kharkhar was able to help mitigate the issue. We found him and his approach to be incredibly compassionate, considerate, individualized and patient-friendly. He advice is astute, up-to-date and empathetic. His treatment always comes from a deeply human place and is about seeing how to help the patient and their caregivers feel more at ease. Something that is quite rare and refreshing within the medical community.We feel that he genuinely cares about the patients that he is treating and is always kind and respectful in his communication. Moreover, his admin team is very efficient and prompt and it's a pleasure to deal with them.Would highly recommend Dr Kharkhar himself - though we must say our experience with Nanavati hospital itself has been less than ideal.Hope this helps.
  • Avatar Manish Ranjan ★★★★★ a year ago
    I have been visiting Dr Kharkar for treatment of my father. He is a very friendly doctor. He listens to our concerns with lot of patience. He also explains … More the issue in much greater details. He has really been of great help. My father is much better now.
  • Avatar Pinakin Shah ★★★★★ a year ago
    One of the best Dr. Gives complete attention and time to listen to patient's history, issues. Explains various options of treatment with pros and … More cons.
  • Avatar Lawrence Castellino ★★★★★ a year ago
    Exceptional experience with an expert,Dr. Kharkar is a knowledge house. It is rare nowadays to find doctors with patience, knowledge, and a flair for … More handling patient’s questions, besides Dr. Kharkar’s bedside manners are exemplary. I am privileged to be treated by such an amazing soul. I have told him and will repeat it here that “I am advancing my move back to India although I am a US Citizen, because I know I am in good hands and will be well taken care of. Thanks Dr. Kharkar for your selfless service!
  • Avatar Hemant Kansara ★★★★★ a year ago
    Great doctor!! Really appreciate.The doctor diagnosed to my sister correctly and start treatment, she has good improvement after taking medicine prescribed … More by doctor as no epilepsy attake. We have good experience with the doctor. Thank you

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Noted as one of the best Neurologists in Mumbai

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Ex-Assistant Professor, University of Alabama, USA

Outlook India - Best neurologist in Mumbai