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Epilepsy is a neurological disorder of the central nervous system in which brain activity becomes abnormal, causing seizures or periods of unusual behaviour, sensations, and sometimes loss of awareness.

The cause of most cases of epilepsy is unknown. It can be the result of brain injury, stroke, brain tumors, or genetic conditions. Seizures can often be controlled by medicine. Also diet and a regular lifestyle may help to reduce the occurrence of seizures.

What do you do when someone has a seizure?

If you see someone having a seizure or fit, there are some simple things you can do to help. You should only call an ambulance if you know it's their first seizure or when it's lasting longer than 5 minutes. It might be scary to witness, but don't panic.

If you’re with someone having a seizure:

  • Only move them if they’re in danger – such as near a busy road or hot cooker
  • Cushion their head if they’re on the ground
  • Loosen any tight clothing around their neck – such as a collar or tie to – aid breathing
  • When their convulsions stop, turn them so they’re lying on their side (also known as the recovery position)
  • Stay with them and talk to them calmly until they recover
  • Note the time the seizure starts and finishes
  • If they’re in a wheelchair, put the brakes on and leave any seat belt or harness on. Support them gently and cushion their head, but don’t try to move them.
  • Don’t put anything in their mouth, including your fingers. They shouldn’t have any food or drink until they fully recover.

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