A seizure can be frightening to watch, but a single seizure is usually not dangerous to the person having the seizure and never dangerous to anyone else. A seizure temporarily interferes with muscle control, movement, speech, vision, or awareness. It may cause a person's entire body to shake for a few seconds to a few minutes, and he or she may lose consciousness.
Even though you may feel helpless around someone having a seizure and find it difficult to watch, there are many things you can do to help:
- Stay calm; most seizures only last a few minutes.
- Try to move furniture or other objects that might cause injury to the person
- If the person is on the ground, try to position the person on his or her side so that fluid can leak out of the mouth.
- Do not try to hold down or move the person.
- Do not force anything, including your fingers, into the person's mouth.
- Do not attempt to give the person any liquids, pills, or food until the person is fully awake.
Keep in mind that you are not a medical provider. When in doubt, call 911. You should call 911 if:
- The person having the seizure stops breathing for longer than 30 seconds.
- The seizure lasts longer than 3 minutes.
- This is the person's first seizure or you don't know if they have a known seizure disorder.
- The person is pregnant.
- More than one seizure occurs within 24 hours.
- The person does not respond normally within 1 hour after the seizure (reduced awareness or not fully awake).
- Inability to walk or stand
Emergency treatment for injuries or medical illnesses may be obtained by calling 911 or Public Safety 319-273-2712, if there are life threatening conditions such as not breathing, heart attack, seizure, or profuse bleeding. An ambulance will respond and arrange for transportation if required. Do not move the patient unless safety dictates. During University business hours, illnesses or injuries of students may be referred to the Student Health Clinic. Please refer to the Critical Incident Safety Book for more information.