For Parents

Managing Seizures

In most cases, seizure management or first aid means keeping a child safe while the seizure runs its course. Fortunately, most seizures are brief and stop within a few minutes.

The first step in any seizure management plan is to get your doctor's advice. He or she knows your child's seizure history and is in the best position to help you plan an appropriate response.

Standard First Aid

  • Protect the child from injury while the seizure continues, but don't forcefully restrain movements.
  • Whenever possible, try to lay the child on a soft surface and turn on one side.
  • Place something flat and soft under the head; loosen tight neckware.
  • Do not place anything in the mouth.
  • CPR should not be given during a seizure.
  • Record approximately how long the seizure lasts.
  • As the jerking slows down, make sure breathing is unobstructed and returning to normal.
  • Do not try to give medicine or fluids until the child is fully awake and aware.
  • Reassure the child and gently help to re-orient him or her as consciousness returns.

What to Tell Your Doctor

Most doctors will never see your child have a seizure -- they don't happen often in the doctor's office. It will help the doctor if you write down what the child was doing just before the seizure began, what happened during the seizure, how long it lasted, and how quickly your child recovered afterwards.

Emergency Aid

Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, a seizure in a child with epilepsy that ends after a couple of minutes does not usually require a trip to the emergency room.

However, if it lasts more than 5 minutes without any sign of slowing down, is unusual in some way, or if a child has trouble breathing afterwards, appears to be injured or in pain, or recovery is different from usual, call 911 for emergency help.

It is always a good idea to discuss with your doctor in advance what to do if your child should have a prolonged seizure.

Special Circumstances

For some children who have convulsive seizures that are prolonged -- lasting several minutes -- or occur in clusters, there are new treatments available that parents or caregivers can administer orally, rectally, or by injection to bring this type of seizure to an end.

Ask your doctor whether these treatments would be appropriate for your child.