It’s definitely scary to see a loved one or even a stranger laying there shaking with their eyes rolled back into their head; it may even trigger a memory of a frightening “Exorcist” style film you watched in the past. It’s hard to place aside the shock and think about what you can do to help. Let’s take a moment to overview generalized seizures which are most commonly seen.
Seizures are thought to occur because of increased electrical impulses inside the brain. There are six types of generalized seizures. The first is the most common and most recognizable because of the activity the person exhibits and is called a grand-mal seizure. Grand mal seizures involve two phases; the first phase is known as the “tonic” phase, where the patient experiences generalized muscle stiffness which may last for up to a minute. The second phase is known as the “clonic” phase, where the patient exhibits uncontrollable shaking and may bite their tongue or experience other injuries due to moving rapidly while being unconscious.
The second type of seizure is known as absence seizures, where the patient doesn’t really exhibit any symptoms other than staring blankly for a short time.
The third type of seizure is an atonic seizure, where patients experience the loss of muscle tone for a short time, and sometimes this is so severe that the person can fall or drop what they have in their hands.
The fourth type of seizure is a myoclonic seizure, where the patient experiences sudden jerks on either one or both sides of the body that vary in timing.
The fifth type of seizure is the clonic seizure, which is much like the myoclonic seizure except that the sudden jerks are more rhythmic.
The sixth and final type of seizure is the tonic seizure, where patients experience sudden muscle stiffening.
So what can be done for these patients?
During a seizure, the best thing that can be done for the patient is to alert 911, keep them safe from injuring themselves or others and, if possible, turn them on their side so they do not swallow anything and can breathe.
Current guidelines are also to not put anything in the patient’s mouth, as biting their tongue is better than swallowing what you have placed in between their teeth.
After a patient has been stabilized, a neurologist can run an electro-encephalogram or MRI along with blood work to determine the cause of the seizure. Many medications are also available to prevent seizures, as well as to give via injection or rectal insertion to end a seizure.
I hope this article has helped and, as always, for more information on seizures, please consult with a qualified physician.
Justin Glaze is an LPN and contributing columnist for the Walker County Messenger. He can be reached at 678-988-1011 or firstname.lastname@example.org.