The brain is a highly complex structure composed of millions of nerve cells (neurons). Their activity is usually well organised and they possess mechanisms for self regulation. The neurons in the brain are responsible for a wide range of functions including consciousness, awareness, movement and bodily posture. A sudden temporary interruption in some or all of these functions may be termed as a ‘seizure’.
Many people have a single seizure at some time in their lives but this does not constitute epilepsy. If an individual has a tendency to experience repeated seizures due to an intrinsic disturbance of neuronal function within the brain then the term ‘epilepsy’ may properly be used.
Management during a major seizure
Prevention of injury e.g by moving furniture or other obstacles from the vicinity of the person. Loosen restrictive tight clothing. Maintain adequate airway.
If practicable place padding (e.g cushions and pillows) between the person and an immovable object such as wall or heavy furniture. Do no attempt to place objects between the person's teeth. Note time the seizure starts, the pattern of the seizure and the time it ends.
After a major seizure the person is likely to be confused and disoriented, becoming very drowsy. Reassurance should be given and the person allowed to sleep. They may want to remain where they are and if this is practicable then they should be made comfortable, preferably in the recovery position.