BURLINGTON, N.C. -- Chances are, at some point you'll see someone having a seizure. One in 26 people are diagnosed with epilepsy during their lifetime. Seizures happen out of the blue and can be scary to see. How you respond can make the difference between life and death.
"If you don't know what to do, you might do what I did," says Burlington mom and preschool teacher Ashly Murphy. Her son was diagnosed with epilepsy at 6 months old. "I just freaked out, thought my son was dying. I ran to pick him up and shake him because I didn't know what was going on."
Jen Murphy's brother Pat died suddenly after suffering an epileptic seizure. "My brother was a successful young man with the world ahead of him. We've learned so much about epilepsy with research and the conferences we've been to since then. Seizures can include convulsing like you'd normally think, but it can also be mumbling, blank staring, shaking, confused speech."
Most seizures in people with epilepsy aren't medical emergencies. They usually end within a minute or two without harm and don't require a trip to the emergency room.
If you see someone having a seizure, don't grab or hold them. Don't put anything in their mouth because they may choke on it. Speak calmly to them and time the seizure if you can. If the seizure lasts more than five minutes, call 911.
Also, after the seizure, offer to help. The person that had the seizure may still be confused after the seizure stopped.