Seizures are one of the scariest things to witness, especially when it’s your loved one in the midst of it. It’s hard to know what to do and how you can best help.
Helping someone with a random seizure is an in-the-moment decision. You’ve probably never dealt with the situation before, and you’ll do what seems like the right thing.
But when your friend or a family member has epilepsy, you can learn how to handle seizure safety.
Epilepsy is characterized by repeated seizures without a trigger. When the electrical activity in a person’s brain basically ‘misfires,’ the result is a seizure.
You’ll know it’s happening when the person has problems speaking, seeing, moving, or controlling their muscles. They may be unaware of what’s going on around them and unable to do anything to help themselves.
Most of the time, the seizures don’t last longer than a few seconds to a few minutes. While they’re happening, it can be terrifying for you and the person in the middle of them.
You may feel helpless since you can’t stop a seizure once it starts. But there are some things you can do, along with your loved one, to manage epilepsy and reduce the episodes of seizures.
1. Urgent Treatment: During a Seizure
Safety is always the primary thing to know when you’re with a person with epilepsy. What should you do if they have a seizure in front of you?
The main goal should be to keep them from injuring themselves since they’re unable to control what they do. However, never try to restrain them, move them, or put anything in their mouth. Doing so can make the seizure worse.
First Aid for a Seizure
Instead, follow the basic seizure guidelines. Lay the person on their side with a cushion underneath their head to keep it even. Use a shirt or towel if you don’t have a pillow.
Make sure their clothes aren’t tight around the neck or chest. Remove necklaces if they’re in the way, take off eyeglasses, and get rid of anything around the area that could be dangerous.
From there, start timing the seizure. If it lasts for longer than five minutes, call for emergency assistance.
Monitor your loved one’s vital signs until help arrives. Talk to them soothingly. They might not understand you, but it helps keep you calm, too.
2. Learn About Epilepsy
Many times, people with epilepsy feel like they have to manage their care alone. Let your loved one know that you want to learn more about the condition, and ask them for suggestions.
They might let you go with them to their next doctor’s appointment. You can ask the physician more about epilepsy and how you can best help.
As you learn about the condition, you may see suggestions like:
- Sticking to routines, which helps the brain’s internal clock function smoother and avoids ‘misfires.’
- Skipping out on bedtime electronics. If it has a bright screen, it stimulates the brain, something that isn’t a good idea before bed.
- Staying away from caffeinated drinks and foods in the afternoon and evening. Caffeine can inhibit a restful sleep cycle and stress the brain.
- Exercising regularly to keep the flow of oxygenated blood circulating through the body.
Knowing these small tips gives you a heads up on what to encourage and what to avoid when you’re with your loved one. Invite them to join you on a daily walk. Drink water with them instead of a caffeinated beverage. Let them know you’re on board with helping them lead a full life.
3. Look Into Alternative Treatment Methods
Until recently, epilepsy was a medical condition that we didn’t know a lot about. Studies in the 19th and 20th centuries laid the groundwork, but the advent of imaging technology clarified the ideas visually.
In the mid-20th century, the best cure for epilepsy was considered a lobotomy. Luckily for today’s society, technology and medical science have come a long way since then.
Now, there’s a type of lobotomy that can be done as a worst-case solution. But before that option is ever brought up, there are quite a few alternative methods that effectively manage and prevent epileptic seizures.
Your loved one could benefit from treatments like:
- Herbal remedies, including lily of the valley, valerian, and peony
- EPIDIOLEX, an FDA-approved medication with cannabidiol in it that can substantially reduce seizures
- Non-pharmaceutical CBD products, including medical marijuana or OTC cannabidiols
Adding one or all of these methods to a regular routine and healthy lifestyle could reduce or eliminate epileptic seizures in your loved one.
The best thing you can do for someone who has epilepsy is let them know you care.
It’s not always possible to prevent their seizure. But they’ll go through each day with the peace of mind of knowing they’re not alone dealing with their condition, and that’s a priceless gift.