What is an absence seizure?

An absence seizure is generally brief, usually less than 15 seconds that is accompanied by symptoms that are barely evident. Nevertheless, loss of consciousness even for a short span of time can make this type of seizure dangerous.

This type of seizure typically affects children 5-9 years of age but can also occur among adults.

What are the signs?

The usual signs of an absence seizure include:

  • Fluttering eyelids
  • scared sick tiredStaring off into space
  • Sudden hand motions
  • Smacking of the lips together
  • Speech pause in the middle of a sentence
  • Leaning forward or backward
  • Sudden motionless

Most adults mistake this seizure as being inattentive or misbehavior of a child. In most cases, the teacher is often the first to notice the symptoms where the child appears briefly absent from their body.

An individual is experiencing an absence seizure if he/she is unaware of his/her surroundings even with sound or touch. Generally, an episode arises abruptly and without any warning.

What are the causes?

During an absence seizure, the electrical signals in the brain repeat themselves. As a result, an individual experiencing an episode might have disrupted levels of neurotransmitters.

The precise cause of this type of seizure is not yet fully determined. It might be hereditary while in some cases, it can be triggered by flashing lights or hyperventilation.

How is an absence seizure managed?

An absence seizure is generally treated with anti-seizure medications. Remember that the treatment with drugs involves a trial-and-error approach which takes time. The doctor might start with a low dose initially and later adjust the dosage based on the results.

Since an absence seizure cause a brief period of loss of awareness, certain activities such as swimming and driving can result to accidents. The doctor will instruct the individual to limit activity until certain that the seizure is under control.

Individuals with this type of seizure should wear a medical identification bracelet. This helps inform others on what to do in case of an emergency.


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