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Facts about Epilepsy, and How to Help when Seizures Happen

Facts about Epilepsy, and How to Help when Seizures Happen

Epilepsy is the biggest health secret in the world. 1% of the British population suffers from epilepsy and 4% will develop it in their lifetime. That is a huge number of people, and means that if you know 16 people, 1 person probably has epilepsy – whether they told you or not. Every day 87 people are diagnosed with it and yet we know so little about the condition, and many people with epilepsy feel embarrassed to share it with friends, family or colleagues.

Normal brain function involves chemical messengers that cause cells to communicate with each other via electrical signals. Epilepsy is a condition where the brain experiences abnormal bursts of electrical impulses. The result of this varies. It can mean a full body fit with convulsions, lack of awareness or entering a trance-like state. Seizures can last seconds or minutes.

Medications_ Epilepsy_treatment

Fast facts about Epilepsy

  • We don’t know the underlying cause of epilepsy but in later life it can be caused by brain damage following a tumour, stroke, or head trauma.
  • Epilepsy can start any age but it most often occurs during childhood.
  • Epilepsy can stop suddenly with or without treatment. Some people will experience just one seizure in their life. It takes more than one seizure to be diagnosed with the condition.
  • There is no cure for epilepsy, but the seizures can be controlled with anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs). Finding the right dosage can take a while, however. In some cases surgery may be required to remove the part of the brain responsible for the erroneous electrical impulses.

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How to help somebody DURING an epileptic seizure

  1. Keep clam. Remember that seizures only usually last 60-90 seconds
  2. If the seizure lasts more than 3 minutes or the person is pregnant, call for an ambulance
  3. Again keep calm – the person having the seizure will often move around violently and it can be a scary thing to witness. Do not panic.
  4. Move any objects like furniture away from the person to stop them from injuring themselves
  5. If the person is on the ground, turn them on their side so they don’t choke on any fluids in their mouth
  6. Do NOT try to hold the person down or forcibly calm them. This can result in injury

How to help AFTER an epileptic seizure

  1. Check for signs of injury
  2. Check their mouth to see if blocked with vomit or saliva. Remove any blockages with your finger to stop them choking
  3. Remove tight clothing from around the neck or waist to help them breathe
  4. Do NOT give anything to eat or drink until fully conscious and alert
  5. Provide a safe place to sit and rest until fully recovered

Useful resources on Epilepsy

Seizure Health Tools

National Epilepsy Awareness Month

Diagnosing Epilepsy


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