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First Aid: Seizures

First AidAlthough seizures can be frightening, many last only a few minutes, stop on their own, and are almost never life threatening. Seizures can take many forms, from staring spells to involuntary movements of the arms and legs.

Signs and Symptoms

  • unusual sensations or twitching before the seizure
  • uncontrollable muscle spasms
  • loss of consciousness
  • uncontrolled urination or bowel movement

What to Do

Some seizures require immediate medical care while others can be managed at home.

If your child has a seizure:

  • Gently place your child on the floor or ground, and remove any nearby objects.
  • Loosen any clothing around the head or neck.
  • Do not try to prevent your child from shaking — this will not stop the seizure and may make your child more uncomfortable.
  • Do not put anything in your child’s mouth. Your child will not swallow his or her tongue, and forcing teeth apart could cause injuries.
  • Roll your child onto his or her side. If your child vomits, keep him or her on the side and clear out the mouth with your finger.
  • Do not give your child anything to drink.
  • Let your child sleep after the seizure.
  • Call your child’s doctor.

Seek Emergency Medical Care or Call 911

If Your Child:

  • has a seizure lasting more than 5 minutes or is having repeated seizures
  • has difficulty breathing
  • has a bluish color on the lips, tongue, or face
  • remains unconscious for more than a few minutes after a seizure
  • falls or hits his or her head before or during a seizure
  • seems to be ill
  • has any symptom that concerns you

Think Prevention!

If your child has a known seizure condition, be sure that he or she gets plenty of rest and takes any prescribed seizure medication on time.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: April 2014