280 Australians are diagnosed with epilepsy each week

Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders, with around 65 million people globally living with the condition. But would you know what to do if someone was having a seizure?

Seizures occur due to a change in electrical activity in the brain. Signs of a seizure vary depending on where in the brain the activity occurs, and can include a blank stare, unusual movements, muscle spasms or convulsions.

Epilepsy Queensland is urging all Australians to Get Seizure Smart this September. Not all seizures require emergency medical attention, but they can be life threatening – almost every day an Australian life is lost due to epilepsy.

CEO Chris Dougherty said, ‘Seizures are more common than many realise and don’t always look like what you might expect… 50% of people that have one seizure will go on to have more. Being seizure smart is an important skill for everyone.’

Get Seizure Smart

Epilepsy: what to look for

Seizure first aid

Epilepsy Educator Jenny Ritchie said appropriate seizure first aid can provide comfort, prevent injury, and even save a life. ‘The signs of a seizure are not always easy to spot and can be overlooked or mistaken for something else,’ she said.

‘Not all seizures are convulsive (shaking-falling). Seizures may include subtle eye movements, changes in cognitive ability, lapses in attention or other unusual behaviours,’ said Ms Ritchie.

After you recognise a seizure, the next steps are crucial.

TIME the seizure. If the seizure lasts longer than five minutes, call an ambulance.
If this is the first time the person has experienced a seizure, you should seek medical assistance.

STAY with the person until they are alert or help arrives.

Stay calm and PROTECT the person from injury.

‘This could mean moving things like hot drinks or furniture and protecting their head with something small and soft,’ said Jenny Ritchie.

Learn more and Get Seizure Smart at the Epilepsy Queensland website.

Over 65 million people worldwide live with epilepsy

Epilepsy numbers

  • In Australia, one in ten people will have a seizure.
  • 5% of Aussie kids will have a seizure before the age of 15.
  • There are more than forty types of seizures.
  • A quarter of a million Australians live with epilepsy and 30% of them are unable to control seizures with medication.
  • 280 Australians are diagnosed with epilepsy each week. An epilepsy diagnoses is made when a person has multiple, or reoccurring seizures.
  • Most seizures will last between a few seconds to a few minutes.

A prolonged seizure over five minutes is a medical emergency. Call 000.

You should also call 000 when a seizure is affecting a person’s breathing, if they are pregnant, the seizure has occurred in water, or if the person has multiple seizures in a row.

Epilepsy Action Australia is also there for those with epilepsy and their carers anywhere in Australia. They are on the web here or ring 1300 374 537.

This video explains how they can help: