What to do when someone has a seizure.

Seizures, unfortunately, are something that I have had to deal with during the times that my wife was suffering through her brain cancer.

I decided to write about this topic today, because my daughter’s little girl had what was called a fibrile seizure this past weekend and I know what a frightening experience it can be to have to witness this type of ordeal in an adult.

I can only imagine the terror that one must have when they see their own child (let alone a small baby) go through a seizure.

Seizures are the bodies signal to let us know something is not right. They can be the result of a back triggering within the body or as a mechanism to protect the body from excessive heat, exhaustion….anything really!

When you witness a seizure of  a loved one, the largest emotion that you will be dealing with is that of helplessness.

When a seizure takes place, there is NOTHING you can do but wait to see what happens.

It’s a horrible sight to see and terrifying to watch your loved ones go through.

I believe that the persons who witness seizures are often more harmed by the seizure than the person who has gone through it.


Because the person in the seizure, as far as I have been able to witness, do not really know at a conscious level that they are going through a seizure.  They don’t see the way their eyes roll back and dilate.

They don’t see their body shake, their body gasping for air or their toes turning blue.

Even as they come out of the seizure state, they don’t see the glazed look in their eyes as they regain composure and take in the world as if for the first time again.

Dazed and confused as they “come to”, they are told that they had a seizure and they are concerned but not panicked as the person who may have witnessed the seizure may be.

Witnessing a seizure is emotionally draining as you try to make sure you are doing all your can (which is really just waiting) to make sure the person who is in the seizure is comfortable.

Having a baby in a seizure is so scary.

You wonder if they will be “gone” forever, what caused the seizure, if they know you are there, if they are afraid and everything else under the sun.

The big difference between and adult and a baby in a seizure?

An Adult can tell you about their experience (what they remember anyways) and a baby can not.

Babies are so little and so reliant on adults that when a seizure occurs and nothing can be done but waiting is absolutely terrifying.

So what do you do when someone has a seizure?

If you see someone having a seizure, although it is hard, it is essential to remain calm.  Seizures seem like they take forever bu in reality they may take less than five minutes.

In the case of my grand daughter, it was over 10 minutes.

When you see a seizure being, TIME IT.  If the seizure progresses beyond 3-5 minutes, you need to call 911 immediately.  If the person in a seizure is pregnant, call 911 no matter how much time it takes.

Seizures interfere with a person’s ability to control their muscles, movement, speech, vision and awareness. Everything is affected during a seizure.

Seizures may be violent shaking, small jitters or complete loss of consciousness.   All of which make seizures very scary to view as a bystander or as someone who can help.

Mild to severe seizures affect each person at a different level.

Here is what you can do to help someone during a seizure:

  1. Protect the Seizure Victim from Injury
    1. Catch them if they are falling and break their fall.
    2. Move any objects in the area that might injure them during the seizure.
    3. Try to place the person on their side (babies too) so that if they have excessive spit (common) or vomit, it can easily leak out of the mouth and prevent choking.
  2. Do NOT try to open their mouth
    1. Sometimes people try to put things in a seizure victim’s mouth to prevent them from biting their tongue. When a person goes into a seizure, it often looks like their tongue is stuck in their mouth in the way of breathing.
    2. You can lose a finger, chip their teeth or fracture their jaw.  Do not do anything with their mouth while in a seizure.
  3. Allow the seizure to do it’s thing. Do not try to hold down a seizure victim as they can dislocate joints, such as shoulders if you try to do so.

Recovery after a seizure

  1. Check for Injuries.
  2. Make sure the person is in the recovery post which is on their side.
  3. If they are having a problem and the seizure if over, you may finger sweep their mouth to remove excessive vomit, saliva or any objects.  Call 911 if you can not get the airway clear.
  4. Loosen clothing.
  5. Make sure the area is safe as they recover.
  6. Do not try to give them a drink or food as they will likely vomit or choke on it.  Wait until they are completely present and aware of what is going on.
  7. Stay with them until they are “back” and familiar with their surroundings. Help them through the confusion of the event and understand that they may be sleepy.

Seizures are extremely scary.  The best thing you can do to prepare and get through a seizure is to stay calm and provide the safest environment you can during a seizure.

I hope that you never have to witness a seizure in any of your loved ones, but if you do, I hope this information helps you get through and makes you feel like you are not alone.

You are not helpless during a seizure if you do all you can to make the seizure victim safe and are there to help them through their confusion and the daze after the seizure is over.