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What to Do if Someone Has a Seizure : June 5, 2011

Witnessing a seizure can be scary, especially if it’s your child or someone you love. Knowing the do’s and don’ts of how you should respond could make a difference in the outcome.

Epilepsy is the Greek word for seizure disorder. Medically speaking, it’s the term used for having had more than one seizure. Children may experience a single seizure, sometimes related to a fever, and still not be epileptic.

“They may have a one time seizure and potentially never have another seizure again,” says Lee Memorial Health System’s  Dr. Jose Colon. “However, if you have a tendency towards having seizures, then at that time it is a seizure disorder.”

Seizures can range from a gran mal or full body convulsions to an abson or petit mal seizure which looks much less dramatic.

“They can have a moment in time where it appears that somebody is not paying attention,” says Dr. Colon.  “But what happening is that they have a seizure going on in their head.  Many times this can happen multiple times a day, sometime hundreds of times in a day.”

The seizure itself doesn’t cause brain damage, but how you handle it is important. 

“It has been said that we may swallow our tongues but that does not happen.  However, if you put something in a person’s mouth, whether it’s a spoon or a finger, you could potentially gag them and if we do gag we can have vomit that can go into our lungs,” says Dr. Colon.

And finally, contact a doctor for a diagnosis if you are someone you love has a seizure.