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Epilepsy is a relatively common condition in which the sufferer experiences a fit or seizure in response to sudden disruption of normal electrical activity in the brain.

In an attack, the casualty may suddenly fall to the ground unconscious. For a few seconds, the muscles may stiffen and breathing will stop. This is known as the tonic phase, and it is succeeded by the clinic phase, in which the whole body jerks violently and breathing recommences noisily through clenched teeth. Normally, the jerking will cease and the muscles relax within about a minute. Breathing will become normal again, but the casualty may remain unconscious for a few more minutes.

Although epileptic fits can be frightening to witness, they rarely cause the sufferers any lasting harm, unless they have injured themselves during the fall or the clinic phase.

How to Help During an Epileptic Fit

1. Move furniture and other objects to clear a space around the casualty. If possible, position him or her on the back and try to protect the head with padded material before the jerking be gins.

2. Loosen tight clothing, but do not attempt to restrain the casualty or put anything in the mouth during the attack.

3. When the convulsion has subsided, place the casualty in the recovery position and remains with him or her until a complete recovery has been made.

4. Examine the casualty for signs of injury, such as cuts or fractures. When the casualty is fit to move, ensure that he or she gets home safely and informs a doctor, especially if this is the first attack.

5. If the casualty does not regain consciousness within 15 minutes or has repeated convulsions then call an ambulance.