How can you help someone who's having a seizure?What should you do if someone appears to be having a seizure?
By: John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
What should you do if someone appears to be having a seizure?
“The main thing is to stay calm yourself,” said Dr. Richard Kanoff, a child neurologist for Essentia Health who specializes in treating epilepsy.
A person having a complex partial seizure — the kind that afflicted Brette Garnatz when she was in her early 20s — may be confused and uncertain who you are even if you are a family member or friend.
“The important thing is to approach them slowly, to talk softly, be calm,” Kanoff said. “All you’re trying to do is guide them to a safe place. See if you can get them to sit down or lie down in a place where things are relatively out of the way.”
A person having a grand mal seizure may stiffen and shake all over, Kanoff said.
“Again, the recommendation is to stay calm, to approach that person and move things out of their way the best you can so they don’t bang against things,” he said.
If you can, Kanoff said, help the patient to lie on his or her side. That way, if the patient begins vomiting the substance will come out the mouth and not back into the lung.
There are a couple of things you shouldn’t do.
“We don’t restrain anybody, because those muscles are going to twitch anyway,” Kanoff said. “If you provide a restraint, you might facilitate another injury like a broken bone.”
And don’t put anything in the patient’s mouth, not even your finger.
The old thinking that you need to prevent the patient from “swallowing his tongue” has long been discounted, said Mary Giese, regional outreach coordinator for the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota.
Putting something in the patient’s mouth has more potential to block the airway than to open it, Kanoff said.
“People do bite their tongues, but it’s rare that anybody needs stitches in their tongues as a result of that,” he said. “It’s much better to have them have the bruise from the bite on the tongue than have them lose their airway because you pushed something in there.”