How to manage your child’s convulsions

Tamilore’s mum noticed that sometimes, her son would start jerking and shaking uncontrollably. There were other times he would just start staring into space and not respond to her calls.

Scared and anxious, she tried everything from placing a spoon between his teeth to placing hot stones on his leg, all in a bid to treat him. What she did not know was that her child was having seizures.

What are the major symptoms of seizures?

Seizures are caused by abnormal electrical discharges in the brain and can appear in different ways, the most common one being convulsions, also known as giri or warapa(repeated, jerking and uncontrollable movements). The child can also:

Lose consciousness

Start peeing or pooing uncontrollably

Stare into space and not seem to hear or respond to repeated calls.


What should I do if my child has a seizure?

Clear the area of people and objects that may cause harm to your child.

Gently lay your child on his/her side on the floor. This would prevent them from choking on saliva.

Loosen any clothing around his/her head that may be choking him/her. This would also aid breathing.

Do NOT put anything in a seizing child’s mouth. Common practices in Nigeria include putting a spoon, salt or eater in the mouth. However, these only increase the risk of aspiration (food going down the wrong way) and injury to the caregiver.

Try to time how long each episode lasts

Steps in caring for convulsion patients
Source: Jamaica Hospital Medical Centre

When should I rush my child to the hospital?

Please rush the child to the hospital if:

The seizure lasts for longer than five minutes.

If the child has difficulty breathing

Is unconscious for longer than a few minutes.