Emergency advice

Seizures in adults:

  1. Don’t restrain them.
  2. Place padding around them.
  3. Loosen clothing.
  4. Once stopped place in the recovery position.
  5. Call 999.

What are seizures and what causes seizures?

In adults, the most common cause of a seizure, also known as a convulsion or fit, is epilepsy. However, it can be caused by other things, including a head injury, alcohol poisoning, lack of oxygen, after taking certain drugs, extremes of temperature, or if someone with diabetes has a 'hypo' where their blood glucose is too low.

Epilepsy is a condition that affects the brain and can cause repeated seizures, which are often occur suddenly and without warning.

Signs and symptoms

Look for:

  • sudden collapse or loss of responsiveness
  • a rigid body with an arching back
  • noisy, difficult breathing
  • grey blue tinge on the lips
  • start of jerky uncontrolled movements or twitching
  • saliva at the mouth, possibly blood stained if they have accidentally bitten their tongue or lip
  • loss of bladder or bowel control.

What to do

  1. Seizures adult - clear away any potentially dangerous objects

    With any seizure, it is important to first protect the casualty from harming themselves during the fit. Ask any bystanders to stand back, help to protect the casualty's privacy as much as possible, and clear away any potentially dangerous objects, like hot drinks or sharp objects. Make a note of the time that the seizure started.

    • Do not restrain the casualty or move them unless they are in immediate danger.
    • Do not put anything in their mouth.
  2. Seizures adult - protect their head with soft padding

    Protect their head. You could place soft padding underneath it, such as a rolled-up towel. You should also loosen any clothing around their neck.

  3. Seizures adult - when movements have stopped, open airway and check breathing

    When any jerky movements have stopped, open their airway and check their breathing.

  4. Seizures adult - monitor their level of response

    Monitor their level of response and make a note of how long the seizure lasted.

    • If they become unresponsive at any time, prepare to call 999 or 112 for emergency help and give CPR.

    Not everyone who has a seizure needs to go to hospital, particularly if they are known to have epilepsy.  The casualy may have an alert bracelet, or a care plan that says what to do.  It may take 15-30 minutes for the casualty to gradually recover completely from a seizure.

  5. First aid - call 999 or 112 for emergency help

    Call 999 or 112 for emergency help if:

    • it is the casualty’s first seizure
    • they are having repeated seizures
    • the cause of the seizure is unknown
    • the seizure continues for more than 5 minutes
    • the casualty is unresponsive for more than 10 minutes after the seizure
    • they have an injury on another part of the body, or they are not breathing normally

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