You can swallow your tongue during a seizure – Fact or fiction?

Seizures are caused by a surge of electrical activity in the brain.

Few things can be scarier than someone suddenly going into seizure, but what is a seizure and how should it be handled?

First off, the common myth that you can swallow your tongue during a seizure is just that – a myth, it is physically impossible.

A seizure is a sudden surge of electrical activity in the brain that usually affects how a person appears or acts for a short time.

Seizures can take on many different forms and affect different people in different ways.

Anything that the brain – and thus the body – does normally, can also occur during a seizure when the brain is activated by seizure discharges.

Some people call this activity “electrical storms” in the brain.

Seizures are not a disease in themselves.

Instead, they are a symptom of many different disorders that can affect the brain.

Some seizures can hardly be noticed, while others are totally disabling.

Netcare 911 advises the following steps be taken in the event someone is suffering from a seizure:

  • Time how long the seizure lasts.
  • Clear the area of anything hard or sharp.
  • Loosen anything at the neck that may affect breathing.
  • Turn the person onto his or her side.
  • Put something soft beneath the head.
  • Don’t place anything inside the mouth.

Siezures are most common in people with epilepsy.

Epilepsy is a chronic disorder, the hallmark of which is recurrent, unprovoked seizures.

Many people with epilepsy have more than one type of seizure and may have other symptoms of neurological problems as well.

A long convulsive seizure (called “tonic-clonic status epilepticus”) is a medical emergency.

Generally speaking, a tonic clonic seizure lasting five minutes or longer is considered a medical emergency.

If seizures can’t be stopped or repeated seizures occur right after oneanother, permanent injury or death can occur.

People with epilepsy can also die from problems that occur during or after a seizure, such as inhaling vomit.

This problem can be prevented if the person is turned onto one side as soon as possible.

This allows saliva, vomit or other fluids to drain out of the mouth and not go back into the lungs.

Despite the risks, it’s important for people to remember that it is not common for people to die from seizures.

Take a look at the Epilepsy Foundation website dealing with common misconceptions about seizures and epilepsy.



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Allan Troskie

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