Epilepsy is a very common condition, best described as a rogue electrical discharge across the brain. As the body's functions are controlled by electrical impulses this discharge can lead to a number of physical reactions. Many things may start a seizure (fit): tiredness, stress or flashing lights are common triggers.
This is what most people would recognise as epilepsy, and there are typically four stages:
Minor fitsDuring a minor fit, somebody with epilepsy suffers a brief disturbance in the brain's normal activity, leading to a lack of awareness of his or her surroundings. To the observer it might seem like the person is daydreaming or has suddenly switched off.
There is little for you to do other than to guide the person away from danger and reassure him when he returns to normal.
If he is not aware of any similar episodes happening before, advise him to see a doctor.
First Aid Treatment for a major epileptic seizure
Infantile convulsions (Caused by heat)
Babies and young children may have seizures induced by a high temperature. This may be the result of an infection or because they are overwrapped and in a warm environment. The signs and symptoms are similar to a major epileptic seizure.
Make sure that the child is protected from hitting himself on a bed or cot - do not attempt to restrain. Cool down by removing bedclothes and clothing where possible. Sponge the head and under the arms with a tepid flannel or sponge, re-soaking it regularly. When the convulsion is finished, check ABC and take action as appropriate. In most cases, the child will want to sleep. Dress him in dry clothes and let him sleep. Call a doctor for advice.
When to call an ambulance
Generally, neither epilepsy nor infantile convulsion are medical emergencies. However, you should be prepared to call an ambulance if:
If it is the first seizure, advise the casualty to call his doctor or take him to hospital.
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