First Aid for Seizures

  • Medical Author:
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

  • Medical Editor: Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

What first aid should be done for an epileptic seizure?

First aid for a seizure is aimed at keeping the person safe until the seizure stops on its own. Most seizures last from 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

  1. Stay calm and reassure bystanders.
  2. Loosen anything around the person's neck (clothing, ties, jewelry, etc.) that may impede breathing.
  3. Do not restrain the person – this may result in injury.
  4. Do not put anything into the person's mouth, and do not try to hold the tongue or force the mouth open. This may also cause injury.
  5. Clear the area around the person and remove any objects that could injure them (glasses, furniture, etc.).
  6. Put something flat and soft under their head.
  7. After the seizure, lay the person on their side to facilitate breathing and keep the airway open.
  8. Do not leave a person alone after a seizure – they may be disoriented or confused.
  9. If the person is known to have epilepsy it may not be necessary to call 911. However, call 911 if:
    • the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes,
    • another seizure begins soon after the first one ends,
    • the person does not awaken after movements have stopped,
    • the person has another medical condition (such as heart disease),
    • or you think anything else might be wrong.

What can be done to prevent an epileptic seizure?

There may be some ways to prevent seizures in some people. Sometimes, there is no way to prevent seizures and a person may have a seizure even if they follow all of the doctor's recommendations.

  • Anticonvulsant medication helps manage seizures in many patients. Take all prescribed medication regularly. Do not stop taking medications or change the dose without consulting a doctor.
  • Avoid alcohol as it may interact with anticonvulsant medication, making it less effective.
  • Consult a doctor before taking any other medications, including over-the-counter drugs, or supplements as there may be drug interactions.

Avoid any known seizure triggers such as foods or medications, hormones, stress, lack of sleep, dehydration, or sensitivity to light.

Medically reviewed by Joseph Carcione, DO; American board of Psychiatry and Neurology


Epilepsy Foundation. First Aid.

UpToDate. Overview of the management of epilepsy in adults.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/4/2015

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  • First Aid for Seizures - Experience

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  • First Aid for Seizures - Causes

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  • First Aid for Seizures - Symptoms

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  • First Aid for Seizures - Assist

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