Epileptic attack: Causes, symptoms and how to react

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Epileptic attack: Causes, symptoms and how to react
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An epileptic attack is a convulsive seizure caused by the involuntary contraction of several of the body’s muscles.  An electrical disorder in the brain causes these muscles to contract involuntarily.   Different types of seizures can be arise due to a brain trauma, an intoxication, an illness or from an epileptic illness.  What are the first signs to look out for?  How should you respond if someone is having a epileptic attack? 

How to explain an epileptic attack?

As epilepsy is caused by an abnormal electric activity of neurons, seizures effect all functions coordinated by our brain:

  • A loss of consciousness or an altered consciousness. (Eyes are open with a fixed stare, but he person doesn’t react)
  • A sudden fall for no apparent reason;
  • In some cases, seizures of prolonged and involuntary muscle contractions in arms and legs ;
  • Heavy breathing ;
  • The person becomes frightened for no apparent reason;
  • An unusual irritability or agitation.

In the majority of cases, a person suffering from an epileptic shock will tend to have the same type of reaction each time.  The symptoms will be therefore similar for each episode.

How can you recognise an epileptic shock?

A convulsive attack will develop in three stages regardless of the cause:

  1. The person will fall sharply, and their body will stiffen in one swift movement, 
  2. Their body will then start to convulse, their limbs will bend and stretch out quickly and at random,
  3. After the seizure, the person will remain unconscious for a few seconds before waking up. 

How should you react?

Every time a person has an epileptic shock it is recommended that you follow these pieces of advice:

  • If you are there when the person falls, make sure that the person does not hurt themselves when they fall by try to hold them or to soften the fall;
  • During the seizure, remove any dangerous objects that are next to the person which could hurt them and place a cushion under their head;
  • While they are unconscious, rock their head carefully backwards and put them into a lateral safety position (on the side).  Wait until they regain consciousness and watch carefully for their breathing to return to normal.

If a person suffers from an epileptic attack it is important that the emergency services are called. (999) You should then be able to precisely describe the attack.  Give your address so that the emergency services can reach you quickly and follow the advice of the doctor on the phone.

When the person becomes conscious again, look out for signs that confirm they have had an epileptic shock: 

  • The person can’t remember the attack ;
  • The person has bitten their tongue ;
  • Sometimes the person has urinated.


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