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Epilepsy – First Aid

International Epilepsy Day, celebrated each year on the 2nd Monday of February, is an opportunity to raise awareness of epilepsy, what it is, and how it can be treated. 

Epilepsy is a common neurological condition that affects the brain and causes seizures, a sudden rush of abnormal electrical activity to the brain. Anyone, regardless of their age, sex, or race, can develop epilepsy. 

Although there is no cure for epilepsy, Cleveland Clinic states that around 70% of people who have been diagnosed with epilepsy can become seizure-free within a couple of years. 

Seizures are often triggered by:

  1. Lack of sleep
  2. Stress
  3. Illness/ fever
  4. Bright lights / flashing lights or patterns
  5. Alcohol
  6. Not taking medication


First Aid for Seizures

An epileptic seizure can be quite scary to witness. Here are a few things you can do should someone close to you have a mild seizure. 

  1. Remain calm and keep others around you calm as well.
  2. If possible, guide the person to the floor, protecting them from injury, and place something underneath their head for support.
  3. Remove eyeglasses and loosen any tight clothing that may make breathing difficult, such as a tie.
  4. Once the convulsions stop, turn the person on their side (if they have food or fluid in their mouth, roll them onto their side immediately).
  5. Stay with the person until the seizure is over and they are fully awake.
  6. Explain what happened calmly. 
  7. Note the time the seizure starts and ends.
  8. Get the person home safely.


Call an ambulance if:

  1. This is their first known seizure.
  2. The seizure lasts longer than usual or longer than 5 minutes.
  3. The person does not regain full consiousness or id they have difficulty breathing after the seizure.
  4. An injury occured during the seizure.
  5. A second seizure follows quickly after the first.
  6. The seizure happened in water.
  7. Always call for help if you are unsure what to do – a medical professional can talk you through it. 


DO NOT do any of the following:

  1. hold the person down or try to stop the movements.
  2. do not put anything in their mouth (especially not your fingers).
  3. do not attemt to do CPR.
  4. do not offer them food or water until they are fully responsive.



  1. NHS, 18 September 2020, Epilepsy, accessed 25 January 2024 <https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/epilepsy/>
  2. Healthline, 14 February 2022, What is Epilepsy?, accessed 25 January 2024, <https://www.healthline.com/health/epilepsy>
  3. Cleveland Clinic, 03 November 2022, Epilepsy, accessed 25 January 2024, <https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17636-epilepsy>
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2 January 2022, Seizure First Aid, accessed 25 January 2024, <https://www.cdc.gov/epilepsy/about/first-aid.htm
  5. Better Health Channel, 16 August 2023, Epilepsy – first aid and safety, accessed 25 January 2024, <https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/epilepsy-first-aid-and-safety>