Seizures (fits) ‒ in adults
A seizure can be caused by something interrupting the electrical
activity in the brain. This leads the muscles in the body to
contract uncontrollably and usually causes the person to lose
consciousness. It’s also known as a convulsion or fit.
In adults, seizures are the most common symptom of epilepsy, but
they can be caused by other things, such as a head injury, alcohol
poisoning or someone with diabetes having a 'hypo' when their
blood glucose is too low.
Epilepsy is a condition which affects the brain and causes
repeated seizures, which are often sudden and dramatic.
What to look for
With any kind of seizure it is really important to keep
• their level of response and pulse
• and that the person is breathing.
It is also important to protect them from harming themselves
during the fit
If you think someone is having a seizure, there are six key
things to look for:
- Sudden loss of consciousness
- Rigid body with an arching back
- Noisy difficult breathing
- Convulsions (jerky uncontrolled movements)
- Loss of bladder and bowel control
- Afterwards they may be confused, tired and fall into a deep
What you need to do
Don’t restrain or move them.
Protect them from hurting themselves. Clear away any potentially
dangerous objects, like hot drinks or sharp objects.
Make a note of the time when the seizure started and how long it
Protect their head by placing something soft underneath it, like
a towel, and loosen any clothing around their neck.
Once the seizure has stopped, they may fall into a deep sleep –
if they do, open their airway and check their breathing.
If they’re breathing, put them in the recovery position.
If they stop breathing at any point, prepare to treat someone
who is unconscious and not
Keep checking their breathing, pulse and level of response.
Call 999 or 112 for medical help if:
•it’s the casualty's first seizure, or the cause is unknown
•they’re having repeated seizures
•the seizure lasts more than five minutes
•they’re unconscious for more than ten minutes.