Recent News Stories Regarding Seizures
June 13, 2012
In the wake of recent news about U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson having a seizure, the Epilepsy Foundation is sharing important information about epilepsy and seizure disorders to inform and educate the public about seizures.
A seizure is a disturbance in the electrical activity in the brain. One in ten Americans will have a single seizure at some point in their lives. A person who has two or more seizures from an unknown cause is said to have epilepsy. Epilepsy affects nearly 3 million Americans and 50 million people worldwide. Although epilepsy can strike anyone, of any background at any time, it primarily affects the very young and the very old.
1 in 26 people will be diagnosed with epilepsy at some point during their lifetime and an estimated 150,000 new cases are diagnosed in the United States each year. Epilepsy comprises a family of more than 25 syndromes and numerous types of seizures with varying severity. Seizure symptoms may include shaking, muscle jerking, drooling, loss of consciousness, inability to communicate or automatisms (such as lip smacking, picking at clothes, fumbling).
It is the fourth most common neurological disorder in the United States after migraine, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease. There is no known cause for 70 percent of all the cases of epilepsy and large numbers of people live with undiagnosed or untreated epilepsy.
If you see someone having a seizure:
- Keep calm and reassure other people who may be nearby.
- Don't hold the person down or try to stop his movements.
- Time the seizure with your watch.
- Clear the area around the person of anything hard or sharp.
- Loosen ties or anything around the neck that may make breathing difficult.
- Put something flat and soft, like a folded jacket, under the head.
- Turn him or her gently onto one side. This will help keep the airway clear. Do not try to force the mouth open with any hard implement or with fingers. It is not true that a person having a seizure can swallow his tongue. Efforts to hold the tongue down can cause injury.
- Don't attempt artificial respiration except in the unlikely event that a person does not start breathing again after the seizure has stopped.
- Stay with the person until the seizure ends naturally.
- Be friendly and reassuring as consciousness returns.
- Offer to call a taxi, friend or relative to help the person get home if he seems confused or unable to get home by himself.
The Epilepsy Foundation has a national network of affiliates that serves millions of people in thousands of communities throughout the United States. Complete first-aid information, current details on seizure research and information about local services can be found by visiting www.epilepsyfoundation.org or by calling 800-332-1000.