Convulsions (also called seizures or fits) may occur in children under 6 as a result of fever, and at any age as a result of epilepsy, some head injuries and brain disorders, poisoning, drug overdosage and other illnesses. It can be frightening to witness a seizure, but most are over within a few minutes.
Signs and symptoms
- a strange cry preceding the attack (sometimes)
- a sudden fall to the ground, with the person rigid and unconscious
- uncontrolled jerking movements of body and limb muscles
- altered breathing pattern, noisy breathing
- frothing at the mouth (sometimes)
- loss of bladder control (sometimes)
- blood on lips if tongue has been bitten
- no memory of the fit on awakening
- temporary confusion after seizure is over, and the need to sleep
First aid treatment
- Stay calm, and protect the person from injury by removing dangerous nearby objects. Do not attempt to restrain the person.
- Place something soft under the person's head to protect it, and loosen any tight clothing.
- In the case of febrile convulsions, put the affected child on his or her side on the floor or a wide bed and stay nearby.
- As the convulsions ease, place the person in the lateral position and tilt the chin back to keep the airway clear.
- Give reassurance as consciousness returns, and help the person to move somewhere nearby where it will be possible to sleep.
- Seek urgent medical aid if the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes or if there are further seizures. Anyone who has a seizure for the first time should consult a doctor without delay.
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