How to Help Someone Having a Seizure


Dec 14, 2022


This is how to help someone having a seizure: slowly lower them to the floor, turn them on their side, and support their head but avoid moving them for the duration of their seizure. We understand that it sounds difficult, but the process of what to do when someone has a seizure is actually quite straightforward as long as you can remain calm. 

Knowing how to spot a seizure is an important skill to have if you have loved ones who have been diagnosed with epilepsy or are at high risk for seizures. What does a seizure look like? If a person is staring into space, looks confused, goes unconscious, or begins uncontrollably jerking their limbs, they could be having a seizure. Seizures have a variety of different causes such as dehydration seizures and diabetic seizures, which each vary in severity.

It’s important to remember that even though these conditions are often grouped together, there are different steps to taking care of someone who suffers from a stroke vs. seizures. To eliminate any confusion, here are steps for how to help someone having a seizure.

What to do when someone has a seizure

  1. What is the first thing to do when someone is having a seizure? Carefully ease the person onto the floor, support their head, and roll them onto their side. This will help prevent them from choking on their own saliva or vomit.
  2. Clear the area around the person from any objects that could hurt them. This is especially important if the person’s arms and legs are jerking.
  3. Remove any eyeglasses and loosen ties, collars, or any other items that could make the person have trouble breathing. Stay with the person until the end of their episode.
  4. Time the seizure. Most seizures last around 30 seconds or up to two minutes. After that time, check to see if the person is breathing or is beginning to regain consciousness.
  5. Once the person is alert, calmly explain to them what happened. The person should have a seizure treatment plan set by their doctor if they have been diagnosed with epilepsy. 

What NOT to do when someone is having a seizure

  • DO NOT attempt to move the individual or hold them down as this can cause injury.
  • DO NOT force anything, including your fingers, into the mouth of the individual. As long as they are placed on their side, they likely won’t choke on anything.
  • DO NOT leave while the person is having a seizure.
  • DO NOT try to give the person food or water until they are completely coherent.

When to seek emergency help if someone is having a seizure

For most individuals who have frequent seizures, they can usually be handled on their own — but when is a seizure a medical emergency?

Call 911 if…

  • This is the person’s first seizure
  • The seizure lasts longer than five minutes (remember, they generally don’t last longer than two minutes)
  • The person has another seizure shortly after
  • The person is still confused after regaining consciousness
  • The person has a fever or has difficulty breathing after the seizure
  • The person has other health conditions or is pregnant

What to do when you feel a seizure coming on

If you suffer from seizures, you will likely be familiar with the symptoms: headaches, panic, dizziness, and nausea. If any of these symptoms occur, here’s what to do when you feel a seizure coming on:

  • Make sure you are in a safe environment. If not, try your best to get to a safe place away from objects that could hurt you.
  • Ask someone to stay with you if you have company. Alert anyone around you that you could have a seizure.
  • Assume the seizure recovery position by lying down and rolling onto your side until the seizure ends.
  • Use any medications prescribed to you or any other methods in your seizure treatment plan set by your doctor.
  • Once the episode ends, record when you had the seizure, what you were doing when it occurred, and how long it lasted to the best of your ability. 

If seizures are a common occurrence for you, you probably won’t need to seek medical treatment after each episode although you should discuss this with your doctor. However, if your episode matched any of the emergency symptoms we listed earlier, seek immediate medical attention.

Having complications after a seizure? Contact a Complete Care emergency room for assistance.

The best tip for knowing how to help someone having a seizure is to call 911, even if the situation doesn’t feel extreme, to make sure that paramedics can get to the patient sooner. Although most people with epilepsy can handle the aftermath on their own, you should never hesitate to seek medical help. 

If you or your loved one are having complications after a seizure, the emergency medical professionals at Complete Care can assist you in creating a seizure treatment plan or simply monitoring the troubling symptoms. Our ER locations are open 24/7 for any emergency.

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