Neurological Health

Are Absence Seizures Absolutely Risky?

Written by
Dr. Vasantha K S
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Published on Aug 29, 2018 and last reviewed on Sep 07, 2018   -  2 min read

Abstract

Abstract

Previously known as petit mal seizures, this type of seizure is more commonly seen in children. Let us read on to know how it can be managed effectively in everyday life.

Are Absence Seizures Absolutely Risky?

A seizure is caused by a brief period of abnormal electrical activity (electrical impulses) in a person's brain. An absence seizure has a generalized onset, meaning, it starts on both sides of the brain simultaneously. In this type, there is a sudden loss of awareness characterized by blank staring that lasts for a couple of seconds.

Types

They are of two types:

  1. Typical absence seizures.
  2. Atypical absence seizures.

In typical absence seizures, the onset is with a blank stare, often mistaken for daydreaming. It lasts nearly 10 seconds and is followed by the return of consciousness.

In atypical absence seizures, the onset is also with a blank stare, but it lasts about 20 seconds and involves other involuntary actions such as lip smacking, eyelid fluttering, jaw movements, and finger rubbing.

Signs and Symptoms

  • A blank stare with loss of awareness.
  • They stop talking midsentence or whatever they are currently doing abruptly.
  • Multiple episodes may occur in a single day.
  • There may be confusion after the episode.
  • They do not usually cause the typical jerky movements or fall associated with a full-blown seizure.

Causes

Doctors are not sure of the real reason it occurs in some children. But, it is believed to be hereditary. In some others, it seems to be triggered by flashing lights or rapid breathing.

Risk Factors

  1. Age: This particular type of seizure is more common in children between ages 4 and 18 than adults.
  2. Sex: It is more commonly observed in girls than in boys.
  3. Family history: If you have a blood relative with absence seizure, the risk increases significantly.

Complications

  1. In most children, absence seizures will go away when they are older. In some, it will continue or they may have full-blown seizures in adulthood in which case they will need to continue taking medications.
  2. Learning disabilities and difficulty in following instructions at school.
  3. Social withdrawal and isolation.
  4. It may be considered risky to drive. It is recommended to take the public transport if available.

Diagnosis

Once a parent, teacher or friend suspects something to be wrong, it is important to seek expert opinion without further delay. The doctor will recommend an EEG (electroencephalogram) if he suspects a seizure.

Treatment

The doctor may suggest certain medications to prevent recurrence of episodes. Commonly prescribed drugs include:

  • Ethosuximide.
  • Lamotrigine.
  • Valproic acid.
  • Divalproex sodium.
  • Clonazepam.

Prevention

Future episodes can be prevented from occurring by:

  1. Taking medicines as prescribed by the doctor.
  2. Avoiding all types of stress.
  3. Having a nutritious diet.
  4. Exercising every day.
Last reviewed at:
07 Sep 2018  -  2 min read

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