Convulsions: How to Use First Aid to Help

Convulsions are neurological disorders where the signals in the brain become erratic and irregular. The most common cause is from a medical condition called epilepsy. However, they can also be caused by concussions, allergic reactions, brain tumors, and high fever in children.

Before a convulsion occurs the person may hallucinate and see, hear, taste, or smell something not there or may feel an urgent need to get to safety. If the person recognizes this feeling, he or she may have time to tell bystanders and sit down before the convulsion takes place.

Convulsions range from mild blackouts, which to others seem like daydreaming, to sudden and uncontrolled shaking with unconsciousness lasting several minutes.

First Aid for Convulsions

Although a convulsion may look frightening, you can easily help the person. Remember that the person can't control his body movements. Do not try to stop the convulsion or restrain the person.

The goal of first aid for convulsions is to protect the casualty from injury and manage the air way. Here are the general steps:

  • Move away nearby objects and furniture that might cause injury. Try to keep the person away from dangerous situations such as fire, heights, or water.
  • Protect the person's head by placing a cushion, such as folded clothing, beneath it.
  • If there is saliva, blood, or vomit in the person's mouth, move him or her to the recovery position so that it drains from the mouth.
  • Do not try to place anything between the person's teeth; biting the tongue or cheek hard enough to cause much bleeding is rare.

After the convulsion the person will be drowsy and confused. Do a secondary survey, checking to see if the person was injured. Be reassuring and comforting. If the convulsion occurred in public, the person may be embarrassed.

If you know the person has epilepsy, you don't need to contact EMS as recovery will be fairly quick. However, in other situations it may be prudent to contact medical professionals especially if the convulsion lasts for more than a few minutes, there are repeated convulsions, the person is pregnant, or the person fails to regain consciousness.

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