How to treat an epileptic seizure

If this is an emergency, please call 000 immediately.

What is an epileptic seizure?

Epilepsy is a disorder of the brain characterised by repeated seizures.

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder which triggers recurrent and unprovoked seizures. Not all seizures are epilepsy, but all require first aid.

This guide is regularly updated and aligns with the current edition of Australian First Aid (4th edition, 7/2011)

Signs and Symptoms


  • Suddenly cry out
  • Fall to the ground, sometimes resulting in injury
  • Stiffen and lie rigid for a few seconds
  • Have rhythmic jerking muscular movements
  • Look very pale and have blue lips
  • Have excessive saliva coming out of their mouth
  • Sometimes bite the tongue or cheek, resulting in blood in the saliva
  • Lose control of their bladder or bowel
  • Be extremely tired, confused or agitated afterwards


What to do

During the seizure

Protect the patient from injury by removing any objects that could cause injury.



Protect the patient’s head by place something soft under their head and shoulders.


Time the seizure.

  • DO NOT try to restrain the person or stop the jerking.
  • DO NOT put anything in their mouth.
  • DO NOT move the person unless they are in danger.

After the seizure

Put the patient in the recovery position as soon as jerking stops, or immediately if they have vomited or have food or fluid in their mouth.

Manage any injuries resulting from the seizure.


DO NOT disturb the patient if they fall asleep, but continue to check their breathing.


Calmly talk to the patient until they regain consciousness. Let them know where they are, that they are safe and that you will stay with them while they recover.

Call triple zero (000) for an ambulance if:

  • The seizure continues for more than 5 minutes or a second seizure quickly follows
  • The patient remains unresponsive for more than 5 minutes after a seizure stops
  • The patient has been injured
  • The patient has diabetes or is pregnant
  • You know, or believe it to be, the patient’s first seizure.


Epileptic seizure fact sheet

DRSABCD poster

Related advice

Nose bleed

Here’s a quick fact sheet for how to treat nose bleeds. Remember – the patient must lean their head slightly forward and pinch the soft part of the nostrils for at least 10 minutes.

Spinal and neck injuries

In the case of suspected neck or spinal injury, it’s imperative not to move the patient. If the patient is unconscious as a result of a head injury, you should always suspect a spinal injury.

Sprains and strains

A sprain is an injury to the ligaments and capsule at a joint in the body. A strain is an injury to muscles or tendons.

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