Seizures in children occur when many brain cells activate at the same time in abnormal patterns. This temporarily disrupts the brain’s normal functioning, causing changes in behavior, awareness and body movements. Seizures are typically associated with epilepsy, which is a seizure disorder.
Not all seizures are alike, however. Some seizures only involve short periods of unawareness or unresponsiveness, and don’t need immediate first aid. Other types of seizures in children are more intense and require immediate action on the part of parents or friends to prevent harm. Anyone looking after a child with epilepsy should know what to do if a seizure occurs.
Keeping a Child Safe During a Seizure
The most important thing to do when a child has a seizure is to keep them safe.
Here are some important tips to keep in mind when responding to a seizure in a child:
- Don’t restrain or hold down a child during a seizure, but do place them on a soft surface such as a bed if possible.
- Prevent choking by laying the child on their side, and ensure the child’s breathing isn’t restricted.
- Never place anything in the child’s mouth during a convulsion or attempt to interfere with biting. Gently clean away saliva from their mouth with a soft cloth to help breathing.
- Call 911 if the seizure doesn’t stop within three to five minutes or the child doesn’t regain full consciousness after it’s ended.
- Once the child is fully awake, give them pain medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to lessen pain or fever accompanying the seizure.
- It’s important, especially for the first few seizures, to make detailed notes about how it manifests.