Hesperian Health Guides

Seizures, Convulsions

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HealthWiki > New Where There Is No Doctor > First Aid > Seizures, Convulsions

Seizures are sudden, usually brief, periods of unconsciousness or changes in mental state, often with jerking movements.

Seizures may be caused by high fever, dehydration, an injury, malaria, poisoning, or other reasons. Seizures that recur are called epilepsy—see Head and Brain Problems (in development). If none of these dangerous causes of seizure seem likely, a single seizure may not be a problem (although it can be very frightening to watch). If seizures recur, see a health worker.


During a seizure, clear the space around the person so she does not hurt herself. Turn her on her side so she does not choke if she vomits. Do not hold a seizing person down or try to hold her tongue.

For seizure from dehydration, get medical help. After the seizure is over, give rehydration fluids.

For a seizure from meningitis, get medical help.

For seizure from malaria, get medical help. On the way, give diazepam. Treat with malaria medicines (see Illnesses from Mosquitoes - in development).

If the seizure lasts more than 15 minutes, put liquid diazepam in the anus using a syringe without a needle. Do not give more than the recommended dose and do not give more than 2 doses.

The spasms caused by tetanus can be mistaken for seizures. The jaw shuts tightly (lockjaw) and the body suddenly bends back. Learn to spot early signs of tetanus.

After a seizure, the person may be confused or drowsy.
Comfort her.

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This page was updated:10 May 2018