First Aid: Seizures

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First AidAlthough seizures can be frightening, many last only a few minutes, stop on their own, and are almost never life threatening. Seizures can take many forms, from staring spells to involuntary movements of the arms and legs.

Signs and Symptoms

  • unusual sensations or twitching before the seizure
  • uncontrollable muscle spasms
  • loss of consciousness
  • uncontrolled urination or bowel movement

What to Do

Some seizures require immediate medical care while others can be managed at home.

If your child has a seizure:

  • Gently place your child on the floor or ground, and remove any nearby objects.
  • Loosen any clothing around the head or neck.
  • Do not try to prevent your child from shaking — this will not stop the seizure and may make your child more uncomfortable.
  • Do not put anything in your child's mouth. Your child will not swallow his or her tongue, and forcing teeth apart could cause injuries.
  • Roll your child onto his or her side. If your child vomits, keep him or her on the side and clear out the mouth with your finger.
  • Do not give your child anything to drink.
  • Let your child sleep after the seizure.
  • Call your child's doctor.

Seek Emergency Medical Care or Call 911

If Your Child:

  • has a seizure lasting more than 5 minutes or is having repeated seizures
  • has difficulty breathing
  • has a bluish color on the lips, tongue, or face
  • remains unconscious for more than a few minutes after a seizure
  • falls or hits his or her head before or during a seizure
  • seems to be ill
  • has any symptom that concerns you

Think Prevention!

If your child has a known seizure condition, be sure that he or she gets plenty of rest and takes any prescribed seizure medication on time.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: April 2014



Related Resources

OrganizationAAP Pediatric Referral Department Use this website to find a pediatrician in your area or to find general health information for parents from birth through age 21.
OrganizationEpilepsy Foundation Epilepsy Foundation has information on books, pamphlets, videos, and educational programs about seizure disorders. Call: (800) EFA-1000
OrganizationAmerican Academy of Family Physicians This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.


Related Articles

First Aid: Febrile Seizures These seizures sometimes happen in young children who have fevers. Although they can be scary, febrile seizures aren't usually a sign of something serious.
Febrile Seizures Febrile seizures are full-body convulsions caused by high fevers that affect young kids. Although they can be frightening, they usually stop on their own and don't cause any other health problems.
A to Z Symptoms: Seizure Find out about the signs, causes, and treatements for different types of seizures.
Seizures Seizures are caused by abnormal electrical discharges in the brain. Find out what you need to know about seizures and what to do if your child has one.
Brain and Nervous System The brain controls everything we do, and is often likened to the central computer within a vast, complicated communication network, working at lightning speed.
Epilepsy Epilepsy causes electrical signals in the brain to misfire, which can lead to multiple seizures over a period of time. Anyone can get epilepsy at any age, but the majority of new diagnoses are in kids.
A to Z: Seizure, Grand Mal A grand mal seizure is a sudden attack that brings on intense muscle spasms and loss of consciousness. It is caused by abnormal brain activity and affects the entire body.
A to Z: Seizure, Petit Mal A petit mal seizure is type of epileptic seizure that causes a person to briefly lose consciousness and stare ahead without moving, appearing "absent."




Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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