Seizures - Tutorial Number 6

A seizure - also called a convulsion or fit - consists of involuntary contractions of many muscles in the body.

The condition is due to a disturbance in the electrical activity of the brain. Seizures usually result in loss or impairment of consciousness.

The most common cause is epilepsy. Other causes include:

  • Head injury
  • Some brain damaging diseases
  • Shortage of oxygen or glucose in the brain
  • The intake of certain poisons including alcohol.

Epileptic seizures are due to recurrent, major disturbances of brain activity. These seizures can be sudden and dramatic. Just before a seizure, a casualty may have a brief warning period (aura) with, for example, a strange feeling or a special smell or taste.

No matter what the cause of the seizure, care must always include maintaining an open, clear airway and monitoring the casualty's vital signs - level of response, pulse and breathing. You will also need to protect the casualty from further harm during a seizure and arrange appropriate aftercare once they have recovered.

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