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First Aid merit badge 5b: Describe symptoms, treatment and prevention of convulsions / seizures

First Aid merit badge 5g: Describe symptoms, treatment and prevention of abdominal pain

Second Class 6a: Show what to do for "hurry" cases of internal poisoning

Convulsions and Seizures
A seizure is a when a victim involuntarily loses control of his muscles, which spasm and jerk violently. Seizures are essentially a malfunction of the central nervous system and can be caused by many things, including head injuries, high fever, dehydration and drug overdose.

Seizures are violent and scary. There is no "treatment" for a seizure, only a proper response:

When responding to a seizure, there are several things you should never do:

Seizures cannot be prevented. Seek medical attention unless the victim has regular seizures and feels medical attention is not required (e.g. epilepsy patients). If the victim does not regain consciousness after the seizure ends, seek medical attention.

Abdominal Pain
Most abdominal pain is caused by gas, which causes sharp, stabbing pains. The best course of action is to encourage the victim to lie down so the gas bubble will move and relieve the pain.

However, if the victim has suffered a trauma (e.g. a car accident) or if the pain does not subside after lying down for a short time, he may have internal injuries. There is no first aid for internal injuries -- seek medical attention.

Internal Poisoning
When a victim has been poisoned, the most important piece of information you can gather is the name of the poison. Sometimes this will be obvious -- if a small child drank a bottle of household cleaner, the bottle will be nearby. However, if someone was poisoned by a chemical in a mislabeled or unlabeled bottle, identification can be tricky.

For purposes of treatment, poisons are divided into two classes:

The difference is important because non-caustic poisons are best treated by causing the victim to vomit. Some of the poison will remain in the body but most will be expelled. Caustic poisons must not be vomited however, as they will cause more injury to the esophagus, throat and mouth as they are expelled.

The labelling on the chemical bottle will say whether vomiting should be induced. If the bottle cannot be found or the poison cannot be identified, do not induce vomiting.

Treatment includes:

  1. Induce vomiting, if appropriate.
  2. Have the victim drink milk, if available, or water otherwise.
  3. Call Poison Control or 911 for assistance.
  4. If in doubt, seek medical attention.

Poison Control is available 24x7 at: 800-222-1222

Preventing accidental poisoning is simple: keep all poisons, cleaners and chemicals away from children. Lock cabinet doors or place the chemicals on high shelves. Never put a poison, cleaner or chemical in an another bottle -- especially soda bottles. Even if they are labelled, small children may still drink them.


©2005 Sam Clippinger / samc (at) troop50 (dot) org
Last updated: 12/9/2005