To begin, it is important to note that there are numerous types of seizures. It should also be stated that not everyone with epilepsy will experience the same type. In this post, I will be generally explaining the various kinds of seizures; however, for a full list please visit the reference page listed below.
The first type of seizure is called a focal onset aware seizure, formally known as simple partial seizure. This is when the electrical discharge of neurons is localized to a certain area of the brain. This normally occurs in the frontal or the temporal lobe. In addition, there is no loss of consciousness with these types of seizures. This person may be presenting with a jerking movement of a localized area in the face or hand, for example. They may also have numbness or weakness in these areas. They may be pale, sweaty, nauseous or flushed. Lastly, they can also have hallucinations, déjà-vu, or strange thoughts. It is best to consult with a doctor if you feel that you or someone you know seems to be presenting with the signs mentioned above.
The next seizure type is called a focal onset impaired awareness seizure, formally know as complex partial seizure. This is when the electrical discharge of neurons is localized to one hemisphere of the brain. Due to the fact that a large area of the brain is affected; loss of consciousness is seen with these types of seizures. This person may have an aura, which means that they experience a strange thought, smell, or see a light before they lose consciousness. They may also have what is called automatic behaviour. This includes picking at their clothes, chewing their lip or wandering, for example. Another sign to note in a person with a focal onset impaired awareness seizure is called a reactive automatism. In simple terms, this means that the person will repeat an action without being aware that they are doing so. They will also experience signs similar to a focal onset aware seizure, but the difference is that these individuals lose consciousness. They will also have a one to two minute post-ictal period, which is known as the recovery period after a seizure.
The third type of seizure is a tonic-clonic seizure. They are classified under generalized seizures and affect both hemispheres of the brain. Their description also includes causing sudden loss of consciousness without warning. There are five phases to a tonic-clonic seizure. The first being the aura; however, not everyone will experience one. The next phase is the loss of consciousness. Following, is the tonic phase. This is when the person will become rigid and all the muscles will contract. If this stage lasts too long, it puts the person at great risk due to leaving the individual without air. The fourth phase is the clonic phase and is when the body begins to jerk. This will slowly stop over time and lead into the final phase, which is the post-ictal or recovery period.
The fourth type of seizure is called absence seizures. They are classified under generalized seizures and affect both hemispheres of the brain. These seizures are normally caused by genetics and occur in children and adolescents. This person may be seen to be staring blankly for a period of ten to fifteen seconds, and in this period they will lose consciousness. They may also show eye blinking or head turning. This person will not present with any tonic-clonic activity and will not normally have any reactive automatisms.
Ultimately, this is a small list of the most common types of seizures. As mentioned above, the reference down below will provide you with a more extensive list on the various types of seizures that exist.
Thank you for being a part of my weekly blog! I hope you learned something new!
As a paramedic student, I have learned a lot about how to care for a person in seizure. I have learned an extensive amount about the body systems involved with respects to seizures, but most importantly, I now know how to assist these individuals.
Firstly, it is important to remain calm and understand that you are able to help someone that is having a seizure. Allow the seizure to run its course, while running through the following steps to assist them as best as you can.
To begin, it is crucial to identify the cause of the seizure. Ask any bystanders if they have useful information to help tell you why the patient may be presenting the way they are. If there are no bystanders, it is helpful to look for some medical alert bracelets or necklaces. The list below provides some valuable reasons to why a person may be having a seizure:
1. Epilepsy/Seizure disorder
2. Alcohol/ Drugs
4. Insulin (Too high/Hyperglycemia or Too low/Hypoglycemia)
Even if the cause has not been determined, it is important to start caring for the seizing patient. According to the Basic Life Support Patient Care Standards which is followed by Ontario paramedics, for a patient in active seizure, the next step is to place them in the recovery position. This is when the patient is placed on their side, which allows fluids to flow out of their mouth due to gravity. If the patient is seizing due to a stroke, they must be placed on their paralyzed side. However, this may not always be possible if the patient has stiff muscles; in which case, it is best to leave them in the position they are found as long as they are safe.
At this point, you should time the seizure. This is because seizures that repeat or last longer than five minutes or are considered a medical emergency due to the possibility of apnea. Apnea means that the patient will stop breathing. Therefore, rapid transport as a paramedic is crucial in this case.
Once these steps are completed, it is ideal to move any objects that could be hazardous to them. This means, moving anything that they can grab easily and moving any items near the head. Ensure that you do not put anything in their mouth as this puts the patient at risk of chocking. This step should be done quickly, and will give you better access to the patient while making sure they are safe.
Now that you have completed all of the steps above, it is time to check their breathing. If you hear grunting, moaning or feel any air exiting the person’s nose or mouth, that is a great sign. This means that they are still breathing on their own. You can also look for the colour of the patients face. If they appear pink, or of normal colour, they are breathing adequately; however, if they appear blue, this means that they are lacking oxygen and their breathing has decreased significantly. Be sure to constantly check their breathing to see if it has changed during the course of the seizure.
If the patient comes out of their seizure while you are with them, reorient them and tell them what has happened. If they are aggressive, try to calm them down and call the police if required. Evidently, some individuals may require additional care depending on the cause of their seizure and the situation; however, any help can aid the seizing patient.
I hope you learned something new today. Until next week!
*Please note that these are some helpful tips and advice on how to care for a patient that is in seizure; however, this is not how all paramedics will respond to a seizing patient nor is it direct protocol. For more information on how Ontario paramedics treat seizures, please see page 82 labelled Seizure Standard of the following document:
You can also see Epilepsy Durham Region’s First Response Protocol.
Welcome! In this blog you will find some important information about how to live a worry-free summer with epilepsy. There are many helpful tips as well as interesting topics that can help educate you on the importance of living your best life with epilepsy and how this can be achieved.
Hi! My name is Rebekah. I am a twenty year old paramedic student who has epilepsy. I have been seizure free for three years and am happy to share with you the tips and tricks that I have learned to having a safe and seizure-free summer. I cannot wait to help you understand that living with epilepsy does not have to be dreadful, and that the summer can still be one of the most fun times of the year. With a positive mindset and good support, we can all make it through this together.
Heat and Epilepsy
How Heat Causes Seizures:
To start off, it is important to talk about heat and how it plays such an important role when considering a person with epilepsy. In general, when a person becomes severely overheated, they risk a higher chance of having a seizure. This is why it is important to prevent heat stroke (exhaustion), or hyperthermia. Though, to trigger a seizure in someone with epilepsy it is the changes in weather that are more likely to be the cause. This being said, if a person enters a hot environment from a cold environment this could trigger a seizure; however, the opposite remains true as well. In addition, the bright light from the sun can also be the cause of a seizure in someone with epilepsy.
Next, heat is a large contributor to dehydration. When a person is exposed to heat for a long period of time and does not consume enough fluids to replenish the perspiration, this can be the cause of a seizure. This is particularly the case for a person with epilepsy. This is because when there is too much fluid escaping the body through sweat, a drop in sodium (salt) and glucose (sugar) levels is the result. Ultimately, this can cause low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) which is a main cause of seizures. In addition, too much perspiration can cause too much medication to be excreted from the body, which can also lower the seizure threshold.
How to Protect Yourself from the Heat:
Well, simply because heat is a trigger for a seizure does not mean that everyone with epilepsy must stay inside all summer. It means that preventative measures must be taken in order to ensure a happy and safe summer.
To begin, when inside, it is important to keep the house at a temperature that is cool enough to be comfortable; though, it must not be too cool that there is such a large difference between the inside temperature and the outside temperature. This is because, as mentioned, drastic temperature changes trigger epileptic seizures. Instead of having the air conditioner on all the time, blackout curtains or tinted windows are a good alternative. Ceiling fans and free-standing fans work as a good method to circulate the air as well. Ultimately, staying indoors in a well ventilated and cool area is a great way to prevent hyperthermia and to prevent seizures from temperatures changes; however, summer is more fun when spent outdoors and there are plenty of safe ways to enjoy it.
To start, when going outdoors, it is important to locate the shady areas. This is because these areas are the coolest and will provide the lowest temperature change between indoors and outdoors. In addition, there is a lesser chance of perspiring and becoming dehydrated when spending less time under the sun. Other ideas of how to increase the amount of shade include planting a tree, installing an awning or installing a gazeebo. When considering children and seniors in particular, their body has a more difficult time regulating body temperature. This means that it is most important that they spend less time in the sun and more time in the shade. Evidently, spending time in the sun is a great idea; though, it should be moderated and fluid intake should be increased during this period.
Ultimately, it is important to spend time both indoors and outdoors in the summer. Though, this means that taking appropriate preventative measures is crucial to ensuring a safe and seizure-free summer.
Stay safe everyone, talk to you next week!