Like most people, if you hear the word “seizure,” you’re likely scared and have images of putting a spoon in someone’s mouth because you’ve heard tales of people biting off or swallowing their own tongues. If it’s your own child, or a child nearby, it’s important that you separate fact from fiction, and know the basics of what to do.
Between 75,000 and 100,000 kids under five have seizures every year, many fever-induced. It is a more common issue than you might think.
Here are recommendations from the Epilespy Foundation (epilepsyfoundation.com):
• Keep calm and reassure other people who may be nearby.
• Don’t hold the person down or try to stop his movements.
• Time the seizure with your watch.
• Clear the area around the person of anything hard or sharp.
• Loosen ties or anything around the neck that may make breathing difficult.
• Put something flat and soft, like a folded jacket, under the head.
• Turn him or her gently onto one side. This will help keep the airway clear.
• Do not try to force the mouth open with any hard implement or with fingers. A person having a seizure CANNOT swallow his tongue. Efforts to hold the tongue down can injure teeth or jaw.
• Don’t attempt artificial respiration except in the unlikely event that a person does not start breathing again after the seizure has stopped.
• Stay with the person until the seizure ends naturally.
• Be friendly and reassuring as consciousness returns.
• Offer to call a taxi, friend, or relative to help the person get home if he seems confused or unable to get home by himself.