When Minutes Feel Like Hours: Recognizing and Responding to Your Child’s First Seizure
Observations are vital during a seizure, write down notes about:
- Time the seizure began and ended.
- If the child did or said anything unusual before the seizure started.
- What the seizure looked like.
- If the infant or child was eating or drinking when the seizure began.
- Any suspected injury.
- How long a loss of consciousness lasted.
- If the seizure activity was repeated before consciousness returned.
Remain Calm, Keep Your Child Safe
Take comfort from the words of Dr. Katherine Nickels, M.D., Pediatric Neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “Although seeing your child have a seizure may be frightening, it is important to remember that brief seizures do not cause harm to the brain. The vast majority of seizures are brief, lasting less than 5 minutes. Furthermore, only half of the children who experience a first seizure will go on to have a second seizure or develop epilepsy.”
A first seizure can be an unmistakable medical emergency or it can be subtle and unusual behaviors that leave you questioning what you are seeing. If you are witnessing an emergency, don’t hesitate to call 911 and keep the operator on the line. Emergency operators are trained to help you stay calm, walk you through the above steps, and to help you make critical observations that will help doctors determine the cause of the seizure and if treatment is needed. If you are concerned but uncertain if your infant or child might be having seizures, call your pediatrician. A good pediatrician would rather discuss your fears then let seizures go undiagnosed. In either situation, the main thing to remember is to remain calm and keep your child safe until trained emergency personnel arrive or until the next step of diagnosis and treatment is begun.