Neurological Health Data Verified

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


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.


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


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.


  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.


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.


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


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




Comprehensive Medical Second Opinion.Submit your Case

Related Questions & Answers

What are the side effects of long-term Clobazam use?

Query: Hello doctor, My son is 3.5 years old; studying in kindergarten. He has been diagnosed with benign childhood epilepsy. There is an epileptic form discharge of 8 Hz spikes from his right occipital lobe. His MRI and CT scan reports came normal. He feels involuntary movements in his left leg when he i...  Read Full »

Are there epilepsies that do not cause physical seizures?

Query: Hello doctor, I have been suffering from a wide array of mental symptoms for around nine years. Some years ago, I went to see a neurologist. He took an EEG, and found "epileptiform activity", I think in temporal lobes. So he said I have epilepsy and prescribed Valproate. He said my depersonalisation...  Read Full »

What is the outlook for long term antiepileptic medications?

Query: Hello doctor, I have already put my query to a neurologist. Still, I would like to get opinion from you as well. My son is 3.5 years old. He has been diagnosed with benign childhood epilepsy. His MRI and CT were normal. There are epileptic form of discharge 8 Hz spikes from right occipital lobe. Us...  Read Full »

Popular Articles Most Popular Articles

Do you have a question on Seizure or Epilepsy?

Ask a Doctor Online

* guaranteed answer within 4 hours.

Disclaimer: No content published on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice or treatment by a trained physician. Seek advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with questions you may have regarding your symptoms and medical condition for a complete medical diagnosis. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this website. Read our Editorial Process to know how we create content for health articles and queries.