Epilepsy is a tendency to have recurrent epileptic seizures. A seizure is caused by a sudden, temporary burst of excess electrical activity in the brain.



A seizure usually follows 4 stages. Aura, Tonic, Clonic and then Recovery.

Aura: A sensation, taste or smell the casualty can sometimes experience before a seizure (this is uncommon for Febrile Convulsions)

Tonic: This is where all of the muscles stiffen, and this usually lasts for 30 seconds. This would be incredibly painful for the casualty!

Clonic: The Clonic phase is what most people think is the seizure. This is where the body make sudden, jerky movements as the brain attempts to reset itself. This can last from a few seconds to hours, but usually only lasts for a few minutes.

Recovery: The casualty may be unresponsive during this phase. They will slowly come around, but may be very confused to start with. It can take 20-30 minutes for the casualty to be fully alert and orientated. It is unlikely that they will remember the seizure.


So what can I do?

During the seizure

  1. Move dangerous objects away and gently protect the head with your hands or something soft (padded coat, cushion)
  2. Note the time and the duration of the seizure
  3. Loosen any tight clothing around the neck
  4. Call 999 if the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes, they have a second seizure, it’s the casualty’s first seizure or they are injured.

After the seizure

  1. Monitor airway and breathing – if the casualty stops breathing, prepare to commence CPR. If the casualty is unconscious but breathing then place into the recovery position.
  2. Move bystanders away to protect modesty
  3. If you can’t wake them up within 5 minutes then call 999

Never place anything in their mouth, put anything in their mouth or attempt to restrain them!


Want to know more? Attend a training course which covers this topic:

QA Level 3 Award in First Aid at Work (QCF)
QA Level 2 Award in Emergency First Aid At Work (QCF)
QA Level 2 Award In Basic Life Support and Safe Use of an Automated External Defibrillator (QCF)
QA Level 2 Award in Basic Life Support and Management of Anaphylaxis (QCF)
QA Level 3 Award in Paediatric First Aid (QCF)

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