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Melantrys’ Page » Blog Archive » Medical midnight musings

Medical midnight musings


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I’ve been doing some bi-lingual googling tonight, and now I am wondering…

Why is the general populace so badly informed on first aid measures concerning seizures?

The first thing anyone seems to know is that you have to put something into the patient’s mouth to prevent him/her biting off his/her tongue.
A colleague even named a piece of wood the recommended item.
Well, I hope in contrast a soft woven belt is harmless enough….

Turns out you’re not supposed to put anything into the patient’s mouth cos the risk of getting bitten or damaging the patient’s teeth is higher than the risk of any damage caused by the patient’s actually biting his/her tongue or cheek being truly serious.

Another oldie but goodie seems to be the advice to reach into the patient’s mouth and pull the tongue to the front, so that the patient cannot swollow it.
Apparently only recently this helpful “fact” got aired on Turkish tv for Germany.

One: The whole swallowing one’s tongue thing is a complete myth.
Two: Yeah, pull the tongue to the front, so that the patient surely cannot fail to bite on it.
Three: Hey, who needs fingers anyway; they’re way overrated.

It took me five seconds to google a comprehensive list of first aid measures, including what not to do.
Then why is the public knowledge (at least apparently in Germany and Turkey) on the level of the last century or so?

Witnessing a seizure is a scary, scary experience.
I’d be helpful if one at least had a real clue of what (not) to do.

33 Responses to “Medical midnight musings”

  1. nastyKitten Says:

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    Um…

    OK, the lack of useful (and the true wealth of false) information is strange and annoying. This is the century of the fruitbat, after all.

    But why the sudden interest? Did anyone have a seizure? And if so, who?

  2. Melantrys Says:

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    Indeed, a girl from your fair city had a seizure at the store this week.

    Hence my bemoaning the persistent floating around of false theories.

  3. nastyKitten Says:

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    I hope you didn’t ram a piece of wood down her throat while someone else tried to pull her tongue out…? :P

  4. Melantrys Says:

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    No, but after A. had managed to free the screaming mother’s finger (Following the equally bogous advice to reach into the mouth and press the tongue down, so it can’t be swallowed? I didn’t ask her afterwards why on earth she had put her finger there; I just told her to not forget in all the excitement and worry to have a doctor see to it later on.) we inserted my belt between the teeth… :rolleyes:

  5. nastyKitten Says:

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    At least your belt is soft.^^

  6. Melantrys Says:

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    Yup….

    (And not as aware of what is happening to it as ppl’s fingers tend to be….)

  7. nastyKitten Says:

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    LOL…

  8. Lynnette in Minnesota Says:

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    I think the swallowing tongue thing has floated around over here too. Bogus. Have you ever tried to swallow your tongue? Impossible, too short, and it’s attached…

    No, the best thing to do is try to make sure the person doesn’t hurt him or herself by falling (if possible) and to keep any objects that may be harmful away. Depending on the cause of the seizure it should pass shortly, but the person may be disoriented for a while. If the seizure lasts for more than a few minutes then help should be called.

    Apparently, given the mother’s reaction, this girl is not subject to seizures normally. If that’s the case, then she should be evaluated by a doctor to try to determine the cause.

  9. nastyKitten Says:

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    Or the poor girl has seizures quite regularly - and Mom didn’t ask the family doctor if putting her finger into her daughter’s mouth was a good idea or not, because “any sensible person knows what to do if someone has a seizure”.

    It’s just that until now she never was fast enough to insert her finger before her daughter’s mouth clamped shut.

    :D

  10. Melantrys Says:

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    @ Lynnette: Yeah, I read up on the topic now.

    Concerning the tongue, well, some of the info sites stated that you should turn the person onto his/her side after the seizure, not just because vomiting might occur but also because the tongue could become lax and floppy in the aftermath and impede breathing.
    But that’s after the seizure. During the seizure tongue swallowing is a myth and fingers and objects should stay out of the mouth, all sources, German and English, stated .

    I didn’t hear all the mother was telling my colleague Ma., so I have to rely on her later saying that that was not the girl’s first seizure, but apparently the first one mom witnessed.

    Luckily, the girl had already been sitting as she had said she was feeling sick (an “aura”, I now know), and when she suddenly twisted off the chair, her mother and Ma. caught her and laid her on the ground.
    Over mom announcing “Oh my god” repeatedly, Ma. calmly stated that the girl was having a seizure, so while Ma. stripped off two of her sweaters to put under the girl’s head, I stepped over them and called an ambulance.

    Later, the girl was indeed confused; not overly so, I’d say, but the paramedics would hear nothing of taking her to one of the closer hospitals and decreed she was going to the next bigger city with a university hospital.

    Anyway, much as I tend to dislike a lot of my colleague Ma.’s ways, she was really great in that emergency. Not that she seemed to know everything (I read that it’s perfectly normal that ppl with seizures turn blue for a short while, which was a thing that worried her deeply while it occurred), but she stayed totally calm (at least outwardly) which was a real help.
    She also had the sense to note how long the seizure took; well, I gotta say, two minutes rarely felt that long to me….

    @ the Kitten: Tch, you evil person…. :P

  11. David Says:

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    The last time I saw a seizure, I was in the 2nd grade. A girl in my class went down and my teacher was holding her and crying. I didn’t even know what was going on. Heard a bit more later. I was worried that she was dying.

    I knew a guy in college who told me he had experienced seizures, but he was taking some medication to prevent them. He didn’t have one for the year or so that I knew him.

    I didn’t know about keeping objects out of the seizees mouth. I’ll remember that.

    Just out of curiosity, who pays for the ambulance and paramedics in Germany? Does the patient get a bill? I was taken to the hospital by paramedics once about 11 years ago. I had to pay $300 for the trip to the hospital. For some reason, my health insurance didn’t cover it. They tried not to cover other stuff too! I hate America’s mess of a health care system!

  12. Melantrys Says:

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    Yeah, well, seizures do look somewhat as if the person is gonna die.
    My other colleague, A. - who should get marks for removing the girl’s scarf and opening her jacket (”losen clothing to ease breathing”), not to mention that he was the one who managed to free the mother’s finger - later said that he had been terrified the girl was gonna die, with us not being able to do anything to help. If it had been a more tangible emergency, like rescuing someone from a fire or so he’d actually have felt better equipped to deal with it.

    Hah, when I went to that college for 2 years there was this epileptic woman during 2nd year.
    Once we went on a shopping trip to Münster, her, another girl and me.
    And while we were having a snack at some café she suddenly stared off into space and stated “Oh, I forgot my meds today.” We thanked her profusely, for the forgetting as well as for the sharing, but we got lucky and she didn’t get any seizures.
    She did get one though during that year in the bus on her way to college. As the connection between the city with the college and hers was so crappy, she had to wait for almost 2 hours for the next bus back home, which she chose to spend at the college rather than the bus station.
    That woman looked like death warmed over all the time she was waiting for her trip back home…

    Well, if you call an ambulance for a skinned knee they make you pay for it.
    But if you call it for a good reason they do not.
    At the store, this was the second time we called one.

    First time was some years ago for a woman with blood pressure problems. She was feeling bad enough to want medical attention, and she was looking pale enough for us to agree she was probably right. They treated her on the spot and didn’t even take her with them, and no one got billed. They only sent 2 paramedics for that call though.

    For last week’s they sent 5 ppl, 2 of ‘em doctors.

  13. Frans Says:

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    In high school health class they taught me to put something sufficiently soft like a belt in their mouth to prevent damage to tongue or teeth if you could (and not to worry about it otherwise), and not to put your fingers in danger. They also said you have to turn the person on their side to prevent the tongue from obstructing breathing afterward.

    I always wondered how well the whole belt/shirt thing would work in practice, but kept an “if it doesn’t help it can’t hurt either” attitude toward it (this obviously would not apply to harder materials, which would hurt). I feel cheated that whoever authored the high school textbook felt the need to hold on to an outdated piece of information just because they grew up with it (presumably). Oh well, now I know better.

  14. Caesar of Pentra Says:

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    That’s what I found on the internet after reading this very postings. The truth is that the person will not swallow his tongue. He could clench his teeth down and bite it, but because it naturally rolls back slightly, this doesn’t often happen. There is a small piece of tissue behind the teeth and under the tongue called the frenulum linguae which keeps the tongue in place and prevents swallowing.
    Thanks for sharing us this anyway! :)

  15. Caesar of Pentra Says:

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    http://pentra.blogspot.com/2010/02/hurt-locker-vs-avatar.html

  16. Caesar of Pentra Says:

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    Spamming is not good! M’kay?! :P

  17. 13 Says:

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    This reminds me:
    we need a first aid kit around the house.

    i got all sorts of hand/powertools around the house, i.e. things that at least, maim, if not kill.

    and i don’t have a single roll of crepe bandage. clean rolls anyway.
    nor sufficient bandaids, or other assorted such wossnames.

  18. 13 Says:

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    i’d heard of shoving your wallet in somebody’s mouth. don’t know how hygenic that is, still beats shoving fingers or other body parts down an epileptic’s wind pipe.

  19. 13 Says:

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    WHERE IS MY SECOND COMMENT!

    I DEMAND MY LOST COMMENT IN WHICH I SPAKE OF SEKRIT KNOWLEDGE OF SHOVING WALLETS AND WOSSNAMES DOWN PEOPLE’S WINDPIPES INSTEAD OF FINGERS AND/OR OTHER BODY PARTS.

    and yes, i am shouting at a blog engine. i should be off to bed.

  20. 13 Says:

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    THERE it is!

    sometimes Kismet treats me bad. I’m not a spambot, you know.

    sheesh. maybe i should switch to wordpress. blogger is too.. common, and haloscan just shut down. sheesh.

  21. David Says:

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    How’s the weather in Germany? Is it Spring there yet? Not quite Spring in Indiana, but getting close. I have seen some daffodil greens peeking through the fallen leaves. :)

  22. Pan Says:

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    What up Melly!

    point: :chips: :dance: :yoohoo: :goodboy: :img: :razz: :hotwink: :love: :mutter: :threaten: :sadhead: ;( :verysad: :sadwave: :hanky:

    spammity spama spama spam..just trying them out :D

  23. Pan Says:

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    :chips: i like this one especially cuz its what im doing at the mo

  24. Pan Says:

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    :point: this didnae work before…

  25. Pan pan Says:

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    OK I’ll stop spamming now :D

  26. Melantrys Says:

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    @ Frans: Well, on the internet I read that some apparently very common advice was to put a spoon between their teeth, so your textbook at least suggested something that seems harmless enough, especially in comparison.

    @ Caesar: Yeah, well, all the sites I read did also point out that the tongue-swallowing was nonsense.

    http://pentra.blogspot.com/2010/02/hurt-locker-vs-avatar.html
    Spamming is not good! M’kay?! :P

    If you know that, why are you doing it then…? :threaten:

    @ 13: So did you get a first aid kit by now??

    and yes, i am shouting at a blog engine. i should be off to bed.

    I rather think you were shouting at good old Akismet, not that this really makes any difference.
    Yes, bed sounds like a good idea.

    THERE it is!

    sometimes Kismet treats me bad. I’m not a spambot, you know.

    Not?

    @ David: Well, it’s supposed to be spring, and some of the spring flowers are growing already, but it’s still cold, and there are some patches of snow left in places that don’t get much sun.

    @ Pan: You know, if you hadn’t been spamming so horribly, I’d have helped you with the crooked smiley, but, nah….

  27. Pan pan Says:

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    :cry:

  28. Pan pan Says:

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    raaah evil wordpress! :cry:

  29. Melantrys Says:

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    :point:
    It seems as if sometimes Akismet knows exactly what it’s doing.

    “Hmmmm, this IP has been posting four comments within four minutes…. better put the next comment from there into my spam folder right away.”
    :rofl:

  30. Pan Says:

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    Yay spam spam spama rama ding dong :P

  31. Susan Says:

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    Found this blog by accident, and hope someone that posted, or writer, will come back and read this. NEVER put anything into the mouth of a person having a seizure. Swallowing your tongue, and the rest are all false, BUT at one time-like 50 years ago-it was considered good advice, as Doctors fully believed that the tongue could be swallowed, and you would suffocate. Turn person on side, and make sure airway is not blocked, make sure there is nothing close that person can bust head on….also, since many froth at mouth, turning on side helps in case there is vomiting. Also, keep an eye on breathing, you CAN stop for a second or two, so I am assuming here(and hate to assume) that “some” people may stop breathing for too long, or completely.

    You do not have to have a seizure illness to actually experience one, ANYONE can have a seizure for a number of reasons. I should know.

    I’m speaking from my own personal experience. Jan 2009 I had a Grand Mal Seizure. For days prior to it, I could almost ‘FEEL” something in the air, something bad was gonna happen, just FELT IT. I was under extreme stress, and also suffer from bouts of insomnia, at the time, I was roughly going on 5 days of no sleep.

    The only people in the apt at the time were my son, and his best friend, my “adopted” son. I scared the holy crap out of them. Last thing I remember was replying to a text, then, this is what happened (as told to me by my son and “son”) I had been sitting on the couch, and let out a blood curdling scream,-they both said they never heard ANYTHING like it, and hope to NEVER hear it again, EVER- and my body threw itself backwards on the couch. Whole body went rigid, then the seizure went into full swing, I was frothing at the mouth, my arms and legs, well, whole body was doing that shaking thing, cannot think of a better way to state it. Hands were drawn up, legs kicking, back arching badly, was throwing my head around, I quit breathing for a few seconds….The whole time they were on the phone with 911 and panicking more by the minute esp when I stopped breathing. They turned me on my side, moved coffee table far away in case I threw myself towards it and made sure that my airway was clear of anything ie: pillows, etc., this done before calling 911 and turned out to be the right thing to do….Paramedics and 2 police cars arrived….apparently I was like a rabid animal…they said once the seizure started to subside I was talking, and actually struck a policeman, I have NO memory on any of it. I was packed into ambulance and taken to ER….I have no clue how long anything lasted, My brain(or realization) finally caught up and I found myself on a gurney being held down by 4 grown men…and remember telling them to “let me go!” and this “wasn’t Russia!” I was fighting to get up,get away, because I couldn’t understand WHY I was being held “against my will” that was my thought at the time, and I thought I was in danger, so yeah, I was fighting like crazy! Apparently, you have extreme strength, probably the Adrenaline, I think it’s also referred to the “The Fight or Flight Response”

    When my brain started to “calm” down, and I realized what was going on-that I was in an ER, I demanded to know why I was there, and what the h*ll was going on.

    DR and paramedics explained to me, told me everything, and I was mortified!! I hit a cop and apparently was extremely rude to all.

    When you come out of the seizure, and your brain realizes what happened–in reference to talking and not remembering anything-you are most def. in a haze. I had NO memory of anything, and probably for the best. I had brain scans, brain wave tests, flashing light tests, pretty much every test they could do. All came back normal.

    The seizure was brought on by…..extreme stress and lack of sleep. My body just sent out the signal “I’ve had enough!!” Another thing..esp. for people that have never had seizures before, and I guess it depends on how severe it is….. after wards, you will HURT!! Massive pain!! My body was so sore, and my back was just brutal…..due to the thrashing about and arching back with such force, it was about a month before I could get up without assistance, and 2 months before the pain in walking started to ease up.

    I have seen seizures before, and again, this was my first, and hopefully MY LAST Grand Mal Seizure…..and stick with the advice above, nothing in the mouth..turn person on side, make sure nothing blocks airway, clear things away from head, and try to prevent banging head in person is laying on a hard surface and if seizure lasts more then a few seconds or is a first for someone, OR if in ANY doubt, Call for an Ambulance and get the person to a Hospital, Esp if person having seizure has hit their head. (remember, Actor John Travolta’s son died from hitting his head whilst suffering a Grand Mal)

    Hope this is read ;) but more importantly, hope this helps.

    Take care.

  32. Melantrys Says:

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    As you hopefully read I read up on the topic after that incident.
    My post was also informing ppl of all this putting stuff into ppl’s mouths “wisdom” being nonsense. :P

    But that girl got her silly mom’s finger stuffed between her teeth which could have done more potential damage (not to mention the damage to mom’s finger….) than the soft belt I sillily inserted once my colleague had coaxed mom’s finger out of the girl’s mouth, I suppose.
    Now I know better of course.
    And it seems the girl suffered no damage from it.

    One thing I also read is that seizures announce themselves, which for some reason is called “aura”, although usually that doesn’t seem to be over days but mere minutes.
    And the girl said she was feeling whoozy/sick which seems to be a common aura.

    She didn’t scream though, she just uttered a strange noise, somewhere between an actual word and a moan when her seizure started. While making that noise, she twisted off the chair we had sat her on for her whooziness in a curious sideways motion.

    Thankfully she didn’t attack anyone. She didn’t say anything either.
    She “merely” suffered the seizure (the bucking and shaking) and then lay senseless.
    When coming to - while the ambulance ppl were already there - she was very disoriented, poor child.

    I can imagine you hurting all over. I mean, even if you do not hurt yourself falling or thrashing about, you tense all of your muscles for a few minutes. That alone will hurt later on.

  33. Susan Says:

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    Oh yeah, I have also heard about the misconceptions regarding putting items in ones mouth, had never heard of the aura, but then again, I had never had a seizure before. Although you placed a soft belt, much better then a finger.

    Wanted to share an actual seizure experience, from the horses mouth, so to speak, and I think to just “get the experience off my chest” I have never really described to anyone before. I’m also glad the girl was ok after, if only a little dazed.

    Read some of the other blogs, quite interesting. :)

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