First aid for tonic-clonic seizures

What might I see if someone is having a tonic-clonic seizure?

  • At the beginning of the seizure the person may cry/shout out as air is blown out from their lungs.
  • The person will lose consciousness.
  • Body will stiffen, they will fall if standing.
  • Lips may turn blue, saliva may run from their mouth and they might bite their tongue.
  • Rhythmical jerking of the limbs.
  • The person may make grunting noises.
  • Usually lasts no longer than 3 minutes, but id followed by a slow recovery period lasting minutes to hours.
  • In this recovery period the person may sleep, and will usually be confused.

What should I do if I see someone having a tonic-clonic seizure?

  • Stay calm.
  • Do not restrain movement of their limbs.
  • Do not put anything between the person’s teeth.
  • Only attempt to move the person if they are in direct danger.
  • Protect the person’s head.
  • Ensure their airway is clear.
  • Time the ‘jerking’ part of the seizure.
  • Place the person in the recovery position when the ‘jerking’ stops.
  • Stay with the person until they are fully recovered and for at least half an hour afterwards.

First aid for seizures:

You should only call for an ambulance if….

  • The jerking part of a seizure lasts more than five minutes (or two minutes longer than is usual for that person).
  • One tonic-clonic seizure immediately follows another.
  • The person is injured.
  • You are concerned about the persons breathing.



Additional Information

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