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Health and MedicineDiseasesEpileptic crisis: what to do and how to act

Epileptic crisis: what to do and how to act

What to do about a seizure? How to act when a person suffers an epilepsy crisis? Discover the basic advice and guidelines to follow in this situation. Above all, keep calm.

The World Health Organization estimates that, in the world, approximately 50 million people have epilepsy, a chronic neurological disorder that can actually affect people of any age, although it tends to appear above all after 5 years of age.

It is a brain disorder caused by the existence of an imbalance in the electrical activity of neurons in some area of ​​the brain. It is, therefore, one or more neurological disorders that leave the brain predisposed to recurrent seizures, which usually lead to cognitive, neurobiological and psychological consequences.

One of its common symptoms is what is known as an epileptic seizure, which consists of episodes of altered brain activity that produce changes in the person’s attention or behavior.

Why does the epileptic crisis occur?

Normal brain electrical function depends in a certain sense on a delicate balance between the activity of the different excitatory neurons and the inhibitory neurons. So, if there is any process that modifies this balance, an abnormal neuronal discharge can be generated.

The truth is that most of these discharges remain localized, not producing a clinical expression. But if the discharge exceeds what are known as local “safety” circuits (which actively prevent the propagation of the discharges), and spreads to a critical number of neurons, a clinical crisis ensues.

How long does the epilepsy crisis last?

It is usually one of the most common questions that a person asks himself when he is in front of a family member or friend who suffers from an epilepsy crisis. In general, an epileptic crisis usually lasts between 3 to 4 minutes. After 5 minutes, some medical specialists consider it convenient to call an ambulance.

These symptoms may stop after a few seconds or minutes, or continue for up to 15 minutes.

Of course, when the duration of the epileptic crisis is greater than 30 minutes, we are faced with a neurological emergency, and it is essential to go to the hospital urgently.

How to act before an epileptic crisis:

It is essential to always remain calm. In most cases, the epileptic crisis only lasts a few minutes, and in a large number of cases they tend to subside spontaneously.

It is recommended to carefully observe the different characteristics of the convulsive movements, how long they last and what the person does when starting their recovery once the epileptic crisis has been overcome.

Since you can injure the person, trying to stop the seizure or prevent convulsive movements is not advised. On the contrary, it is advisable to accommodate the person carefully, placing a soft object under his head and carefully placing him on his side, so that he can breathe better.

It is also imperative to stay with the person until the crisis is over. It is usual that after the crisis the person is confused; talk to him in a friendly and calm tone.

In addition to the tips above, also keep in mind the following basic guidelines:

  • Loosen clothing that may prevent the person from breathing freely.
  • Remove objects and furniture that could hurt the person when having a seizure.
  • Do not attempt to administer artificial respiration. Except when the patient does not breathe again after the crisis (very unlikely circumstance).
  • It is possible that after the crisis is over the person feels confused. Avoid determining him, and talk to him in a calm and friendly way, directing him without forcing him away from dangerous objects.
  • Do not put anything in the person’s mouth.

When to call an ambulance?

Although in the vast majority of cases epileptic seizures do not represent a medical emergency, since they usually last one or two minutes and do not usually cause damage, there are some reasons that may lead to requesting urgent help. They are the following:

  • When the crisis lasts more than 5 minutes.
  • Difficulty breathing after the crisis.
  • Slow recovery.
  • Second seizure.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Any sign of illness or injury.
  • Existence of other medical diagnoses.


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