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First Aid: Seizures

First AidAlthough seizures can be frightening, many last only a few minutes, stop on their own, and are almost never life threatening. Seizures can take many forms, from staring spells to involuntary movements of the arms and legs.

Signs and Symptoms

  • unusual sensations or twitching before the seizure
  • uncontrollable muscle spasms
  • loss of consciousness (passes out)
  • uncontrolled urination or bowel movement (peeing or pooping)

What to Do

If your child has a seizure:

  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. Loosen any clothing around the head or neck.
  4. Make sure your child is breathing OK.
  5. Don't try to prevent your child from shaking — this will not stop the seizure and may make your child more uncomfortable.
  6. 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.
  7. Roll your child onto his or her side. If your child vomits, keep him or her on the side and clear out the mouth with your finger.
  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. Call your child's doctor.
  11. 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 allow your child to rest after the seizure.

Seek 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 ill
  • 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 medication on time.

Date reviewed: June 2016