What is it?
A seizure is uncontrolled movement of muscles, which occurs when nerve cells in the brain act abnormally. A seizure usually lasts less than five minutes. Seizures usually occur randomly but can be a sign that there is something abnormal happening in the body such as an electrolyte imbalance, a brain tumor, trauma to the brain, fever, infection, or overdose/withdrawal from alcohol or illicit drugs. There are different types of seizures and the type of seizure a patient has depends upon what is causing the seizure.
If you have a seizure, your provider will want to figure out the cause and type of seizure. Your provider will talk to you about treatment options. If anti-seizure medication has been ordered, take it as instructed. Do not stop taking your medication without talking to your provider first.
What you can do when someone is having a seizure:
- Keep the patient safe but do not try to hold the patient still. Loosen any clothing around the patient’s neck.
- If the patient falls to the floor, put padding (such as rolled-up clothes or towels) under their head and roll them onto either side.
- Try to notice what type of movements the patient makes, how long the seizure lasts, and what parts of the body move with the seizure.
- Do not try to open the mouth during a seizure, even if the patient is biting their tongue. Keep your fingers and hands away from the patient’s mouth. Do not attempt to put anything in the patient’s mouth.
- Do not move the patient unless they are in a dangerous location (for instance, near a hot radiator, glass door, or stairs).
- Once the seizure is over, cover the patient with a blanket and allow them to rest.
- Do not give medicines, food, or liquids until the person is fully awake.
- Call the patient’s provider. If the seizure lasts more than five minutes call 911.
When to contact your care team
If you have a seizure or change in your level of awareness or consciousness call your provider.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Seizure First Aid. 2018. Found at: https://www.cdc.gov/epilepsy/about/first-aid.htm
Seizures. [Internet]. American Cancer Society. Found at: http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/physicalsideeffects/dealingwithsymptomsathome/caring-for-the-patient-with-cancer-at-home-seizures
Singh G, Rees J, Sander J. Seizures and epilepsy in oncological practice: causes, course, mechanisms and treatment. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. 2007:78(4)342-349.