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Seizure management

You people may find it frightening to see your child having a major seizure. Although it may be difficult to stay calm, the majority of seizures do not cause any harm. The advice below will reduce any risks and help recovery.

What to do depends on the type of seizure.

Absence seizures

Absence seizures can often be overlooked by parents or teachers, as children might be mistaken for day dreaming.

If a child has absence seizures, then you do not have to do anything. Just wait or it to pass and then repeat any information a child may have missed.

If you can, make note of the number of absence seizures a child has during a day so that this information can be given their doctor.

Focal seizure

Focal seizures can happen when only a part of the brain is involved during a seizure. The symptoms are usually, but not always, only on one side of the body.

Focal seizure symptoms include:

  • jerky movements
  • odd sensations
  • feeling afraid or anxious
  • appear dazed
  • feeling confused
  • unable to communicate properly
  • wander around
  • repeat strange or purposeless movements

Once again, just wait for the seizure to pass. Do not try to stop any movements, guide them away from danger if necessary. Talk to them gently if they appear afraid or upset, and reassure them that the seizure will pass.

Drop seizures

Some children have the most obvious symptom of epilepsy and suddenly drop or fall to the ground. Your child may be stiff or floppy. Recovery is usually quick, although it is possible for someone to hurt themselves when they fall to the ground.

A protective helmet may be necessary for children who have very frequent drop seizures.

Tonic or clonic seizures

Tonic or clonic seizures are major convulsive seizures. They are the type of seizures that most people would recognise as seizures. At the start of the seizure, your child may cry out, then stiffen and fall to the ground. Their arms and legs will jerk or twitch and your child’s face may change colour. It is also possible for someone to become incontinent or bite their tongue during this type of seizure.

What to do during a tonic seizure
  • Note the time the seizure started
  • Protect your child from injury. Remove any objects near your child which might injure them. Carefully move them if they are in a dangerous place
  • Cushion their head with something soft or cradle their head in your hands
  • Place them on their side in the recovery position as soon as possible
What not to do during a tonic seizure
  • Put anything in your child’s mouth
  • Do not worry if they bite their tongue. This will heal soon
  • Do not attempt to move them unless they are in a dangerous place
  • Do not try to restrain your child’s movements or rouse them from the seizure

When a tonic seizure stops, your child will usually take a deep breath and their colour will return to normal. If they want to sleep after a seizure, let them and recover in their own time.


Make sure they stay in the recovery position and stay with them. comfort and reassure them when they have recovered.

Things to remember
  • Most seizures will stop on their own after a few minutes with no further action needed
  • A short seizure will not harm a child
  • If a seizure becomes prolonged, there may be an increased risk that they may come to harm. It is advised to treat prolonged seizures with a rescue medication promptly

Rescue medication

Some children with a history of longer seizures may be prescribed rescue medication. This can either be rectal diazepam or buccal midazolam.

The doctor will give instructions on the use of rescue medication. An epilepsy nurse will explain how it should be given to your child.

When do we need medical help?

The following advice applies to children who may have a tonic clonic seizure and who have not been prescribed rescue medication.

Parents and carers who’s child has been prescribed rectal diazepam or buccal midazolam should follow the advice in your child’s protocol.


Follow this advice if:

  • the twitching or jerking part of the tonic clonic seizure continues for longer than 5 minutes, or
  • if one clonic seizure follows another without your child regaining consciousness in between, or
  • your child is hurting themselves badly when falling during a seizure

You should call an ambulance (999) and request medical help.

The recovery position

This position makes sure that:

  • your unconscious child maintains an open airway
  • their tongue cannot fall to the back of their throat
  • their head and neck are extended so their air passage is widened
  • any saliva or vomit in their mouth will drain freely
  • their arms and legs are stable and keep their body propped up in a safe and comfortable position

Illustration of recovery position

Babies should no be positioned on their side.

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

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