How to Understand Epilepsy

As a teacher, parent, individual, caretaker, friend, coworker or acquaintance, you may have to learn how to understand epilepsy if you know a person with the condition. Because this brain disorder causes seizures, you may be called upon to assist in the event that one happens while the person is with you. You can prepare yourself even more by knowing the warning signs so that you can react faster and more effectively when a seizure occurs.


  1. Image titled Understand Epilepsy Step 1
    Start by understanding how epileptics are affected by the condition.
    • Severity can vary. Some people simply stare off into the distance when they have a spell, some lose consciousness and others still have convulsions that are considered violent. Whatever type of seizure a person has, though, generally that is type that they have most often.
    • The underlying cause of a seizure will be a determining factor in how severe it will be. Some forms of epilepsy are caused by infection, others can be caused by trauma, and others can be caused by kidney or liver failure. There are a wide variety of medical conditions that can lead to epilepsy.
    • Some people experience an aura prior to having a seizure. This is a sensation that can involve odors smelling differently than they are used to, a tingling sensation or an unexpected emotional change. If this is a warning sign to an impending seizure, these individuals need to be taught to communicate what is happening before they go into the seizure. Then those around them can more effectively assist them.
    • Petit mal seizures are ones that cause the individual to have a staring spell. These are usually brief and occur when there is a disturbance to the individual's brain function caused by electrical activity out of the ordinary in the brain.
    • Generalized tonic-clonic seizures are also referred to as grand mal seizures. These are the seizures where the sufferers lose consciousness, experience muscle rigidity and also have violent contractions of their muscles.
    • Partial seizures are also referred to as focal seizures. People who suffer from these can either not have their memory affected, or they can lose awareness of what was happening before and during the seizure spell.
  2. Image titled Understand Epilepsy Step 2
    Be aware of symptoms that can occur in a person with epilepsy so that you can determine if he is having a seizure or is about ready to have a seizure.
  3. Image titled Understand Epilepsy Step 3
    Know what to do in the event that someone around you experiences an epileptic seizure.
    • Remain calm.
    • Remove any items around the victim that may cause harm.
    • Keep the person comfortable. This may include putting a pillow or jacket underneath his head.
    • Track the length of the seizure.
    • Keep onlookers away.
    • Don't hold the person down or put anything in his mouth.
    • Don't let the person eat, drink or take any medication until fully alert.
    • Contact medical assistance if the seizure lasts more than 5 minutes.
    • Keep the person turned on his left side in the event that the person vomits.
    • Stay with the person as long as necessary. This could be anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes.
  4. Image titled Understand Epilepsy Step 4
    Work with the person with epilepsy on prevention and treatment methods. Discuss medication, seizure response dogs and/or medical alert bracelets to assist in the event of a seizure and/or to prevent one.


Article Info

Categories: Neurological Disorders