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  » First Aid  »  Convulsions
Epilepsy is a common cause of seizures; however, seizures that come on suddenly without any prior history of epilepsy may be caused by a high fever, head injury, poisoning, drug overdose, withdrawal from drugs or alcohol, stroke, tumor, low blood sugar, or other causes. In young children with high fevers, convulsions may be due to febrile seizures or diseases such as meningitis. Most seizures last only a short time and stop spontaneously.

Anyone suffering a seizure for the first time should be brought promptly to a hospital emergency room.

  • Part of the person's body (or the entire body) may stiffen or jerk.
  • The person may urinate and/or defecate.
  • Saliva or foam may come out of the mouth.

Protect the person from injury by laying her gently down on a soft or padded surface. If there is any possibility of a cervical spine injury, take proper precautions. Turn the head to one side, keeping the airway open. Contrary to popular belief, it is not necessary to place anything between the upper and lower teeth.
  • Do not restrain the person during the seizure. Instead move to an area where there is no danger of injury.
  • If vomiting occurs, turn the person on her side so the vomit is expelled from the mouth and not inhaled into the windpipe and lungs.
  • Keep a careful watch and begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation if breathing stops more than briefly after a seizure. Make sure the airway is not obstructed. Begin CPR immediately if breathing and pulse are absent at any point.
  • If poisoning is suspected, try to identify the source and contact the local poison control center for guidance.
  • If the convulsions are related to a high fever in an infant or child, lower the body temperature by using cool compresses. Do not place in a bathtub and do not use rubbing alcohol.
  • Observe the person until she is fully awake, for at least 10 to 20 minutes.
  • If the seizure continues for more than a few minutes, or if it recurs in a short time, call for an ambulance.
  • Provide first aid for injuries that may have been sustained during the seizure.