Witnessing someone have a seizure can be a scary and stressful experience, but it is vital that you remain calm in order to help the person suffering from this serious health emergency. Whether a seizure is caused by epilepsy or some other psychological or physiological condition, there are certain steps you can take to help the victim minimize self-inflicted damage and recover.
I have extensive personal experience with seizures. My younger sister, who has an intellectual disability, takes anti-seizure medication. I, myself, suffered from three HAZMAT-induced seizure episodes when I was an active duty Marine in my early twenties. Prior to all this, I witnessed someone have a seizure for the first time at the age of 10 when one of my cousins had an attack at my grandmother's house. As I stood by in confused terror, the adults of my family swarmed my cousin, and through the cacophony of raised voices and chaos I remember them holding my cousin down and then forcing a spoon into his mouth so he wouldn't swallow his tongue.
I have since learned that you should never try to restrain a person having a seizure, nor should you try to put anything in that person's mouth (contrary to popular belief, it is impossible to swallow one's own tongue). But what should you do, then, if you ever witness someone having a seizure? WebMD and the American Academy of Neurology both provide thorough and informative step-by-step guides on what you should and should not do if you witness someone seizing.
Keep in mind that most seizures are over so quickly you may not even be aware they've taking place, let alone have enough time to react. Nonetheless, it is still a good idea to familiarize yourself with recommended steps for assisting a person having seizures.
40% of epileptic disorders are thought to be of genetic origin. Click here for information on the role genetics may play in many types of epilepsy.
For genetic testing options for epilepsy and other neurologic conditions, please download, “Genetic Testing for Neurologic Disorders: A Clinician’s Guide.”