Emergency medical treatment for stroke and seizure are often necessary to minimize risk for the person who has suffered a stroke or seizure. It’s important to know the warning signs and when to seek medical attention for strokes and seizures because they are often serious, life-threatening medical emergencies.
If someone is currently in the middle of a stroke or seizure treatment emergency call 911 immediately. Do not let them go to sleep, do not put anything in their mouth, and do not attempt to drive them to the hospital — just call an ambulance and stay with them.
The difference between a stroke and a seizure
A stroke occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is disrupted or cut off completely. Strokes are most often caused by blocked arteries or burst blood vessels that obstruct the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the brain. There are two main types of strokes:
- Ischemic strokes are caused by a lack of blood flow to the brain due to a blockage.
- Hemorrhagic strokes are caused by blood pooling in the brain due to a burst blood vessel in the brain.
A person can also have a transient ischemic attack, otherwise known as a “mini-stroke.” While the symptoms are identical to those of a regular stroke, they’re temporary and may go away without treatment.
Though strokes most often affect older adults, those in poor health, and those with heart disease, they can affect people of all ages and health conditions and should always be treated seriously.
Seizures are rapid, uncontrollable changes in the brain’s electrical activity. They often lead to convulsions and loss of consciousness. The cause and severity of seizures can vary, though even mild seizures may indicate a serious health condition. It’s best to know how to recognize the signs.
Some of the most common types of seizures include:
- Non-epileptic seizures are one-time occurrences caused by injury or illness
- Partial or focal seizures are epileptic seizures that occur in one area of the brain
- Generalized seizures are epileptic seizures that occur in all areas of the brain
- Diabetic seizures occur when sugar levels in the blood are extremely low
Symptoms of stroke vs. symptoms of a seizure
Symptoms of a stroke
An easy way to remember the signs of oncoming stroke is to remember “FAST”:
- Face drooping or sagging when speaking or smiling
- Arm weakness or sudden inability to raise both arms
- Speech difficulties such as slurred, incomprehensible speech
- Time to call 911 if a person shows any of these symptoms — even temporarily
In addition to FAST, there are other stroke warning signs to be aware of, such as:
- Rapid-onset gait issues
- Sudden, severe headaches
- Vision problems in one or both eyes
- Numbness or paralysis in any part of the body
- Sudden confusion or memory loss
Risk factors for stroke are similar to those of heart disease. People more likely to have strokes often have high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, diabetes, or are smokers.
Continue reading: Signs of an unhealthy heart
Symptoms of a seizure
Someone experiencing a seizure may exhibit these behaviors:
- Uncontrollable spasms
- Rapid loss of balance
- Teeth clenching
- Loss of consciousness
- Twitching eye movement
- Tongue biting
- Abnormal sounds
People often report that they experience headaches, panic, dizziness, and nausea before having a seizure. Seizures typically last anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes, and can actually be caused by strokes, as well as infections and other injuries.
Continue reading: When to go to the ER for a headache
What do I do if someone has had a stroke or seizure?
What are the steps of emergency care for a stroke patient?
Note the onset of the symptoms, call 911 immediately, and be aware of the time. There are certain blood clot medications that can only be given to stroke victims within certain timeframes, so your observation of when the stroke began can help medical professionals make decisions about available stroke treatments.
What do I do if someone has had a seizure?
If someone has had a seizure, particularly someone who has no history of seizures*, you should immediately call an ambulance. While you are waiting for the ambulance you can make sure the person suffering a seizure doesn’t incur injuries by:
- Cushioning their head
- Removing sharp corners from their vicinity
- Turning them on their side after the convulsions have stopped (preventing choking)
- Do not hold them down or attempt to put anything in their mouth
*Instances like these are why it is so important to know your family health history. If you have a family history of seizures, your doctor can help you come up with a preventative plan.
Continue reading: Why is it important to know your family health history?
Emergency medical treatment for stroke and seizure tips from Complete Care
If someone is in the middle of a stroke or seizure treatment emergency, call 911 immediately and stay with the patient for emergency medical treatment for stroke and seizure. Even mild symptoms warrant medical attention, as strokes and seizures are often serious medical events.
Complete Care has freestanding emergency rooms throughout Texas and in Colorado Springs that are open 24/7. If you or a loved one have had a stroke* or seizure, stop in around the clock and we’ll take care of you.
*Please note that Complete Care does not carry the medication (TPA) used in stroke treatment. We can diagnose patients who have had a stroke and send them on to a stroke center hospital, but do not encourage choosing a free-standing emergency room over a hospital in stroke emergencies.
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