A backed up Twitter thread, because I regularly delete my tweets (here’s why, and why you should, too).
This. And also DO NOT PUT ANYTHING IN OUR MOUTHS. You cannot swallow your tongue, but you can choke to death on a fucking spoon crammed in there.
I really cannot overstate how dangerous it is to put things in the mouth of someone having a seizure. It can cause choking, it is also likely to break teeth (and epileptics don’t get free NHS dentistry so that’s a problem).
Meanwhile, the worst thing that can happen to someone’s mouth during a seizure if they’re left alone is grinding teeth, which is suboptimal but better than broken from forcing a spoon in there; and a bitten inside of mouth and tongue, which is sore but heals really quick.
A general rule for helping someone having a seizure is to avoid touching them. If there’s a dangerous thing nearby, like something they could hit their head on or spill, etc, MOVE THE THING NOT THE PERSON
Once the seizure has stopped, you can roll them into the recovery position, but while it’s going on, you don’t need to do anything except time the seizure and call an ambulance if it goes on longer than a couple of minutes.
Yes, in this case if you can get something soft under their head that would help, but try to slip it under when they’re moving rather than moving their head up
The thing I think a lot of people don’t understand about seizures is every muscle in your body fully tenses, so if someone attempts to move you, that muscle is likely to be overstretched and possibly tear, which is VERY PAINFUL when you wake up
Yes, this is really helpful to do, if someone needs it! But offer it to them, don’t just put it on them while seizing!
Half an hour is the recommended time to wait, although call an ambulance earlier if they have another seizure before waking up from the last one. Please note once people wake up from a seizure they’re often confused or out of it. That’s usually normal
But following on from that, if there are stroke symptoms after someone has woken up from a seizure (think FAST: facial drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulties) then call emergency services as something may be more wrong.
To be honest, I always go a bit blue whenever I have a seizure, and for a lot of epileptics, that’s normal during the seizure because your breathing isn’t right – not necessarily positioning. Roll them into recovery position after the seizure stops.
A little more on post-ictal state (i.e. when someone’s woken up but isn’t “quite right”): it lasts up to half an hour, and can have quite diverse symptoms. Confusion, nausea and vomming, forgetfulness, bad coordination, being blissed out. If it stops after half an hour it’s OK
Personally, I get REALLY horny after a seizure, and I will probably crack on to anyone and everyone, and I feel sorry for every ambulance crew who has ever dealt with me. I also get proper goldfish memory and repeat myself. I probably won’t remember that half hour, thankfully.
The trick for dealing with a person after a seizure is be reassuring and patient, remind them what’s happened and ask if they need anything. And ask again and remind them again, because memory/confusion is one of the most common after-effects.
As a general rule, in someone with a seizure disorder, a seizure looks a lot more dangerous and scary than it is. I’m not saying it’s healthy to have a seizure, but be aware that in attempting to help, you may harm them more than the seizure would!
As well as blue lips, know that when someone has a seizure they’ll often froth at the mouth, sometimes bloody froth. Again, looks worse than it is, the froth is just saliva and the blood comes from biting the tongue.
I suppose I want to prepare everyone for what seizures look like, because they look fucking TERRIFYING to see, lots of very unnatural body motion, eyes rolling, frothing, blueness… it can look terrible, but for the VAST majority of seizures, it will stop and they’ll be OK.
And it’s also worth noting that unless you’re a trained medical professional equipped with diazepam and phenytoin, there’s nothing you can do to stop the seizure, which is also scary for a bystander. What helps is knowing when to call an ambulance, and how not to harm them.
First time I actually saw someone have a seizure was long after I’d been diagnosed and I was like “OH DEAR GOD HOW CAN ANYONE SURVIVE THAT” and finally understood why I often woke up to COMPLETE PANIC lol
So to recap: avoid touching a person having a seizure. Move hazards not them. Call an ambulance if seizure lasts more than 5 mins, they have another seizure before waking up from last one, or they don’t wake up for half an hour. Expect weirdness once they wake up.
Oh, and finally, take a moment to breathe for yourself and try to stay calm: the vast majority of the time, it looks a hell of a lot worse than it is.
ONE MORE THING: many people with seizure disorders will wear medic-alert jewellery. It often includes information that is specific to them (e.g. if they have meds in their bag to give, a doctor to call, that they’re fine). Follow any instructions they have on them!