Along with all of these fun firsts, we also suffer along with our children as we witness their first tumble, their first tantrum, their first heart break.
Sometimes we have to witness tragic, life changing firsts that we are not prepared for. We can witness their first major injury, their first allergic reaction and, as is my family’s story, we witness their first seizure.
In early May of 2012, if you had asked me what to do if my child had a seizure, I wouldn’t have known what to say. In fact, when our son had his first seizure in May while playing alone in his sandbox, I didn’t know enough to recognize what had happened.
After many more seizures, several trips to Children’s Hospital and an EEG, my 2½ year old son was diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy known as Doose Syndrome. Since that time, I’ve become very passionate about educating parents about basic seizure safety. A seizure can happen at any time to anyone, even a newborn. Every parent is capable of understanding the basic information that can ease and comfort a child experiencing a seizure.
First of all, educate yourself on the different types of seizures. Not every seizure looks like the kind you see in the movies, with violent screaming and shaking. Sometimes, seizures can be as simple as mindless staring for a few brief moments that is often confused for daydreaming. A great online resource to explore is the Epilepsy Foundation’s website.
Here are some simple steps to take if you believe your child is having a seizure.
- Stay calm and alert- Remember that often seizures are not immediately life threatening and the best thing you can do is keep your child safe.
- Immediately remove anything from your child’s hands to prevent them from hurting themselves.
- Lay them on the floor on their side to prevent them from choking if they vomit.
- Do NOT hold your child down or put anything in their mouth. They will not swallow their tongue!
- Make sure they are breathing, even if it is somewhat irregular.
- Remove any objects from around them.
- Loosen any tight clothing.
- As soon possible, note the time and be sure to note when the seizure ends. Knowing how long a seizure lasts can help Neurologists determine the type of seizure your child had.
- Note any muscle movement in the body and if possible, take a video with a camera or phone. Specifically:
- Are the arms limp or thrashing? What about the wrists?
- What muscles on your child’s face are moving and how?
- Which direction are your child’s eyes looking? Are they up and to the left or to the right?
- Check to see if your child has a fever. If you are alone, wait until the seizure is over. If another adult is present, have them check.
- If the seizure lasts more than 10 minutes or is associated with a very high fever (or as soon as you would feel more comfortable doing so) dial 911. Just remember, that in many cases there is nothing the ER can do for your child once the seizure is over. They can administer an emergency medication for a prolonged seizure if they arrive while your child is still having an episode. Use your best judgment.