Have you ever wondered what happens to the body during a seizure? At Unitek EMT, we’re starting a new series that aims to answer questions like this one.1 In each segment, we’ll look into a specific event, provide relevant information, and review what should typically be done until EMS workers arrive.
For today’s segment, we’ve taken information directly from a helpful website called Mayo Clinic. They are a nonprofit organization committed to clinical practice, education and research, and providing expert care to those who need healing.
Now, let’s take a closer look at seizures…
What Is a Seizure?
According to Mayo Clinic, a seizure is “a sudden, uncontrolled electrical disturbance in the brain.” Some have even referred to seizures as electrical storms of the brain. They can alter your behavior, movements, feelings, or consciousness. Mayo Clinic also notes that you may have a condition called epilepsy if you experience a) two or more seizures or b) a tendency to have recurrent seizures.
There are various types of seizures, and they range in severity. They’re usually categorized by how and where they occur in the brain. On average, most seizures will last between thirty seconds and two minutes. Mayo Clinic states that a seizure lasting longer than five minutes is a medical emergency.
In truth, seizures may be more common than you think. Though the cause of a seizure is often unknown, they can occur after a stroke, a closed head injury, or an infection such as meningitis. Other possible contributors may include a high fever, lack of sleep, certain medications, brain tumor, alcohol abuse, or recreational drugs.
How Do You Recognize a Seizure?
According to Mayo Clinic, “signs and symptoms can range from mild to severe and vary depending on the type of seizure.” Doctors commonly classify seizures as focal or generalized, a categorization that depends on how and where abnormal brain activity begins. However, if they don’t have this information, seizures might be classified as unknown onset.
The following are potential signs and symptoms:
- Temporary confusion
- A staring spell
- Uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs
- Loss of consciousness or awareness
- Cognitive or emotional symptoms, such as fear, anxiety, or déjà vu (the feeling that you have already seen or experienced something before)
When Should You See a Doctor?
Mayo Clinic advises that you seek immediate medical assistance if you experience a seizure for the first time or if any of the following occurs:
- The seizure lasts more than five minutes
- Breathing or consciousness doesn’t return after the seizure stops
- A second seizure immediately follows the first
- You have a high fever
- You’re experiencing heat exhaustion
- You’re pregnant
- You have diabetes
- You’ve injured yourself during the seizure
How Do You Provide First Aid for Seizures?
It’s critical that you know what to do if someone else has a seizure. On the flip side, if you are the one at risk of having seizures, give this information to family, friends, or co-workers in case you experience one around them.
To help someone during a seizure, take these steps before EMS workers arrive:
- Carefully roll the person onto one side
- Place something soft under their head
- Loosen tight neckwear
- Avoid putting your fingers or other objects in the person’s mouth
- Don’t try to restrain someone who is having a seizure
- Clear away dangerous objects if the person is moving
- Stay with the person until first responders arrive
- Observe the person closely so that you can provide details on what happened
- Time the seizure
- Stay calm
For more information about seizures—including diagnosis/treatment and departments/specialties—be sure to check out the Mayo Clinic section that’s dedicated to this particular condition.
A Brief Overview of Unitek EMT
At Unitek EMT, we strive to prepare aspiring Emergency Medical Technicians by providing them with EMT training and an accelerated EMT program. Experts in the EMS field educate our students through a combination of traditional learning, simulation training, and workshop-style classes.
Additionally, we offer a program with several variations to better accommodate our students. These include a 14-Day Boot Camp2 at our Fremont Campus in Northern California, and a modified version of the Boot Camp at our facility in Chandler, Arizona. If you’d like more information, please contact us toll free at 888-790-1458.
Help save lives with Unitek EMT!
1 Unitek EMT provides this information for general interest only, not as medical advice.
2 Our 14-Day EMT Program in AZ and the 14-Day on-ground portion of the EMT Program in CA are taught in an intensive “boot camp” style, to simulate the fast pace of work expected on the job as an EMT. The California EMT Program also includes online instructional hours.