What to Do in Case of an Epileptic Seizure in the Workplace

ProTrainings What to Do in Case of an Epileptic Seizure in the Workplace

Knowing how to deal with emergencies at work is essential, particularly if you are in a profession that requires you to care for vulnerable populations. One kind of emergency that very few know how to deal with but that occurs frequently is what to do in case of an epileptic seizure. 

Seizures manifest themselves in a number of ways, so everyone must be able to identify and respond to the signs of seizures. As seizures can be dangerous, you need to know exactly what to do. 

But before we go into recognizing and responding to seizures, let’s explore what seizures are and what causes them.

What Is a Seizure, Exactly?

A seizure is a burst of abnormal electrical activity in the brain that causes abnormalities in movement, behavior, or consciousness. Seizures take a variety of forms, but all of them fit into two broad categories: generalized and focal seizures.

A generalized seizure affects both sides of the brain. These can take the form of grand mal seizures, which are what most people think of when they think of seizures — seizures which manifest as loss of consciousness, muscle spasms, and crying out. Generalized seizures also include petit mal seizures, which are not as widely recognized. Petit mal seizures manifest as brief mental absences or staring into space, accompanied by small rapid movements, like the fluttering of eyelids or sudden hand movements. 

Focal seizures are limited to a specific area of the brain. People who have focal seizures can experience many symptoms, ranging from slight twitching or sudden strong emotions to abdominal or chest pain. A patient with focal seizures also might experience strange smells and tastes.

What Causes Seizures?

Seizures have a wide variety of triggers and causes, including but not limited to:

  • Infection
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Drug use, particularly stimulants like amphetamines and cocaine
  • Alcohol withdrawals
  • Severe brain injury

However, the most common cause of seizures is epilepsy, which is a disease characterized by recurring seizures. Epilepsy occurs in about 1.2% of the population and usually first manifests between the ages of 5 and 20, although it can start at any age. Most people with epilepsy have specific triggers that can lead to seizures.

If you work with vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, or people with behavioral or psychological disorders, it is important to know if someone has epilepsy and what their triggers may be.

How to Know If a Seizure Is Coming

While not all seizures can be anticipated, about 64% of people with epilepsy experience warning signs. These warning signs can include:

  • Confusion
  • Anxiety 
  • Irritability
  • Tingling 
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Euphoria
ProTrainings What to Do in Case of an Epileptic Seizure in the Workplace

An aura can be experienced seconds or even hours before the seizure itself occurs. If someone you work with is starting to feel an aura, you need to start preparing for a seizure.

What to Do in Case of an Epileptic Seizure

Grand mal or tonic-clonic seizures are the most dangerous. In case of a grand mal seizure, the CDC recommends the following steps:

  • Ease the person down onto the floor.
  • Turn the person onto their side. This prevents them from aspirating and keeps their tongue from blocking their airway. 
  • Clear the area of any hard or sharp objects with which the patient may inadvertently injure themselves. 
  • Cushion the patient’s head with something soft. 
  • Remove glasses, if applicable.
  • Loosen any tight clothes to make breathing as easy as possible. 
  • Time the seizure. If the seizure lasts more than five minutes, call 911. 

If an individual is experiencing minor seizures, such as a petit mal or minor focal seizure, take them to a safe place. Take any object they could use to hurt themselves out of their hands and wait with them until their period of confusion ends. 

How to Prepare Your Team to Deal with Epileptic Seizures

Knowing what to do in case of an epileptic seizure is an essential skill, particularly for those working in education or behavioral health. Those dealing with vulnerable populations need to know how to deal with every emergency.

That’s why ProTrainings has developed state-of-the-art online courses to help you get your staff trained and prepared for anything. We offer 100% online classes on first aid, CPR, and more.
Check out our website today to see how we can help you make your team emergency-ready!