In Switzerland, about 80,000 people are affected by epilepsy, among them about 15,000 adolescents and children. Many people with epilepsy can live relatively symptom-free thanks to medication. Others, however, depend on the first aid provided by people around them. But what exactly is epilepsy and how do you provide first aid in an emergency?
What exactly is epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a chronic disease caused by a seizure disorder in the brain. If it is a chronic disease, it means that the affected person will remain so for life. However, this chronic disease can nowadays be treated very well with medication, which reduces the frequency of epileptic seizures.
An epileptic seizure is the result of an epilepsy. During an epileptic seizure, several nerve cells in our brain are disturbed. As a defensive reaction, the body triggers a spasm in the brain. Because our brain controls our movements through nerve cells, an epileptic seizure usually results in significant motor impairment. As a result, people with epilepsy lose control of themselves, fall and struggle. But there are also other symptoms of epilepsy or an epileptic seizure.
Epilepsy can occur at any time in life, from childhood to retirement. It is therefore important to take any symptoms seriously and to consult a doctor if necessary. At best, it is not epilepsy, but it can never be ruled out in advance. If you are still unsure after consulting your doctor, you should always seek a second opinion from a specialist. General practitioners can “miss” many diagnoses because they are not specialists but generalists.
Why can an epileptic seizure be dangerous?
Epilepsy can occur with different intensities and can therefore be benign, but also very dangerous. Very mild epileptic seizures are hardly noticed by the person concerned. In case of strong seizures, the person concerned is usually unconscious and therefore does not notice the strong seizure.
It becomes particularly dangerous when the affected person begins to squirm.
In this case, there is a great danger of hitting your head on the ground. Depending on where you are, for example at home or on the sidewalk, your head can be injured. The curb can be very dangerous during a seizure.
It is therefore always important to protect the victim’s head in case of emergency.
Recognizing Epilepsy: Symptoms
There are several symptoms of epilepsy or an epileptic seizure.
The most common symptoms are:
- Loss of ability to speak
- Sudden drop
- Body cramps/contractions
Epilepsy is a chronic disease and therefore a seizure can occur at any time. If epilepsy is known to friends or family, they should be given sufficient information.
First aid for epilepsy: instructions
In principle, a single epileptic seizure is not dangerous as long as the symptoms and consequences are not too severe. In the case of epileptic seizures, the duration of the seizure and the fact that the person having the seizure has already experienced it must always be taken into account. If a seizure lasts only a few seconds and does not cause severe symptoms, there is usually no cause for concern.
The people concerned take this harmless crisis very calmly and continue their daily life as if nothing had happened. Nevertheless, it is always necessary to be careful! If the symptoms worsen, it is imperative to consult a doctor or to call for help.
Steps to take during an epileptic seizure
- Carefully move the person away from the danger zone, for example, away from curbs, stairs or pools of water.
- If the person is carrying dangerous objects, they should be carefully removed. This could be tools, machinery or even glasses.
- In any case, avoid putting objects or even your fingers in the patient’s mouth. He may bite them.
- If the head starts to twist hard, then put something soft under the head, like a blanket or pillow. This can prevent further injury to the head.
What to do after an epileptic seizure
- After the seizure, place the patient in the recovery position. This allows saliva to drain from the mouth if necessary.
- If the person is having trouble breathing, you can loosen the clothing around the chest and neck a bit.
- Try to talk to the person and establish a conversation. This way you can find out if the person is really conscious or still unconscious.
- Ask the person if he or she feels pain or can feel an injury. If so, it may be necessary to call for help.
If you are unsure whether to call for help, you can always call them if you are unsure. Extra help can always be helpful and often people don’t want to admit to themselves that they have been through a bigger crisis.
Indeed, epilepsy patients experience many seizures throughout their lives. This can quickly lead to the feeling that there is nothing wrong with them and that they are basically fine. But other injuries are usually not perceived because of the small shock.
Note: If your eyes are not open or if the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes, remember to call for help. If you are no longer able to control the situation yourself, you can use TarisApp to call nearby help. Nearby medical personnel will then be dispatched to the scene of the incident. You can learn more about TarisApp here.
- Epileptic seizure: what’s behind it?
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- First aid in case of a panic attack: how to react correctly!
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