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First Aid: Seizures

First Aid

Seizures are almost never life-threatening. Many last only a few minutes and stop on their own. Still, it can be alarming to see a child having a seizure, and it helps to know what to do.

Signs and Symptoms

Seizures can take many forms, from staring spells to involuntary movements of the arms and legs. Some signs a child might be having a seizure are:

  • unusual sensations or twitching before the seizure
  • staring, not responding to anyone
  • uncontrollable muscle spasms
  • loss of consciousness (passes out)
  • uncontrolled peeing or pooping

What to Do if Your Child Has a Seizure:

If someone is nearby, ask them to call your child's doctor. If no one is with you, follow the steps below and then call the doctor:

  1. Gently place your child on the floor or ground, and remove any nearby objects.
  2. Lay your child on his or her side to prevent choking on saliva (spit).
  3. If your child vomits, clear out the mouth gently with your finger.
  4. Loosen any clothing around the head or neck.
  5. Make sure your child is breathing OK.
  6. Don't try to prevent your child from shaking — this will not stop the seizure and may make your child more uncomfortable.
  7. Don't put anything in your child's mouth. Your child will not swallow his or her tongue, and forcing teeth apart could cause injuries or block the airway.
  8. Don't give your child anything to eat or drink, and don't give any medicine pills or liquid by mouth until your child is completely awake and alert.
  9. Try to keep track of how long the seizure lasts.
  10. Your child may be sleepy or may take a while to get back to normal after the seizure. Stay with your child until he or she is awake and aware, and let your child rest after the seizure.

Get Emergency Medical Care or Call 911 if Your Child:

  • has a seizure lasting more than 5 minutes or is having repeated seizures
  • has trouble 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 sick
  • has a seizure while in water
  • 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 medicine on time.

Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date Reviewed: 10-07-2018