What should I do when someone has a seizure?
If you have epilepsy, you may want to share the following information with your family, friends and coworkers. If someone near you has a seizure, use the following general guidelines:
- Stay calm.
- Don't move the person to another place.
- Don't try to keep the person from moving or shaking.
- Don't try to wake the person by shouting at or shaking them.
- Remove items that could cause injury if the person falls or bumps into them.
- Gently turn the person on his or her side so any fluid in the mouth can safely come out.
- Never try to force the person's mouth open or put anything in it.
- Place something soft (such as a pillow) under his or her head.
- Most seizures aren't life-threatening. You don't need to call a doctor or an ambulance unless the person isn't known to have epilepsy or unless the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes.
- When the seizure is over, watch the person for signs of confusion. Allow the person to rest or sleep if he or she wishes.
If I have epilepsy, do I have to take medicine every day?
Yes. You must take your medicine every day, even when you aren't having seizures or when you think you won't have a seizure. To prevent seizures, you have to take the medicine regularly, just as your doctor tells you.
What should I do if I forget to take my medicine?
Usually you should take your medicine as soon as you realize you forgot a dose. If more than 24 hours have passed since your last dose, call your doctor for instructions.
Should I take extra medicine if I think I'm about to have a seizure?
No. The amount of medicine you take for your epilepsy is carefully set for your own specific needs. No extra medicine should be taken without your doctor's approval.
Will I have to take medicine forever?
It may be possible for some people with epilepsy to stop taking medicine. However, this decision must be made by your doctor. Before you and your doctor can decide to stop the medicine, several questions should be considered. These include how quickly your seizures were controlled, how long you have been free of seizures and if you have other illnesses that may affect your problem.
Can I take other drugs while taking medicine for epilepsy?
Because many drugs affect the ability of your epilepsy medicine to control your seizures, ask your doctor or pharmacist before taking other drugs, even drugs you can buy without a prescription.
Are there other treatments for epilepsy?
When you are first diagnosed with epilepsy, your doctor will usually start by treating you with medication. If that doesn't work, your doctor may suggest surgery. Surgery is most commonly done if it’s known that your seizures begin a well-defined area of your brain that doesn't interfere with important functions like speech, language or hearing.
In other cases, your doctor may recommend a type of therapy called vagus nerve stimulation. This requires a small device be implanted under the skin on your chest. The device delivers an electrical pulse to the brain.
A kind of treatment for children with epilepsy involves a strict diet that is high in fat and low in carbohydrates. This diet is known as a ketogenic diet.
With all treatments, work with your doctor to determine the best treatment for you.
Can I drink alcohol if I have epilepsy?
You should avoid drinking alcohol if you have epilepsy. Alcohol can make it easier to have a seizure and can also affect the way your epilepsy medicine works in your body.
When should I call my doctor?
- The seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes.
- You injured yourself during the seizure.
- The way you usually feel during and after having a seizure changes.
- It takes you longer than normal to recover after having a seizure.
- Your seizures become more severe or happen more frequently.
- A second seizure immediately occurs after the first.
- You are pregnant.
- You have diabetes.
- You have a sudden headache, numbness or weakness in one side of your body, or problems with your vision or speech right before you have a seizure. These could be signs of a stroke.
- Any time you change your seizure medicine or take any other medicines.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff