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Absence seizure- Symptoms & Causes

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Absence seizures are characterized by transient, unexpected losses in consciousness. This condition affects children more than adults.

For a few seconds, an individual experiencing it may appear to be staring blankly into space. After that, there is a rapid return to normal attentiveness. This sort of seizure rarely results in physical harm.

Anti-seizure drugs are effective in controlling absence seizures. In some cases, children who are affected by this condition tend to develop other types of seizures in the future. 

What are absence seizures?

Absence seizures are characterized by a small period of ‘blanking out’ or staring into space. They are triggered by short aberrant electrical activity in a person’s brain, just like other types of seizures. 

An absence seizure is classified under generalized onset seizure, which means it occurs simultaneously on both sides of the brain. 

What are common symptoms of absence seizures?

Looking for a blank facial expression that lasts a few seconds is the quickest way to identify an absence seizure. People who experience absence seizures do not speak, listen, or appear to understand what is going on. Occurrence of such episodes can happen at any time. 

Other signs and symptoms include:

  • Being completely still
  • Making a chewing motion with the mouth
  • Fluttering of eyelids
  • Not talking or moving suddenly 

If you have jerking motions in addition to the absence seizure, it could be an indication of another form of seizure.

When do you need to seek medical attention?

It’s advisable to consult your Apollo Hospitals specialist doctor when facing the following symptoms:

  • When you first observe a seizure
  • If seizures persist despite anti-seizure medication
  • If you see prolonged automatic actions that last from minutes to hours — such as eating or moving without realizing it.
  • If your seizure lasts more than five minutes 

Make an appointment for a reservation at Apollo Hospitals.

To schedule an appointment, call 1860-500-1066.

What causes an absence seizure?

A hereditary propensity link for of absent seizures appears to exist in many children.

Seizures are triggered by aberrant electrical impulses in the brain’s nerve cells (neurons). The neurons in the brain transfer electrical and chemical impulses across the synapses. 

In people who have seizures, the brain’s usual electrical activity is altered. During an absence seizure, these electrical signals repeat themselves over and over in a three-second pattern.

What are the common risk factors of an absence seizure?

The risk factors associated are as follows:

  • Age. Children between the ages of 4 and 14.
  • Sex. Girls are more likely to have absence seizures.
  • Seizures in members of the family. Nearly half of all children with absence seizures have a seizure-prone relative.

What are the complications associated with leaving absence seizures untreated?

The duration of absence seizures is usually between 10 and 15 seconds. After the seizure, the affected individual resumes regular behavior, and that person would usually have no recollection of the seizure itself. Absence seizures can last up to 20 seconds in some cases. Some develop full convulsions later in life such as generalized tonic-clonic seizures.

In some cases, affected children may develop learning issues, and this condition causes them to be mistaken for daydreamers, or as someone who isn’t paying attention. This may also lead to social isolation. 

The only long-term consequence of an absence seizure is the physical injury caused during an episode of seizure. They are frequently noticed by others first. This is because that the patient is completely oblivious that they are having a seizure.

What are the treatment options available?

Absence seizures can be treated with anti-seizure medicines. To begin with, your Apollo doctor may prescribe anti-seizure drugs in modest dosages. Based on how your child responds to the medication, your doctor may alter the dosage accordingly.

 The following are some examples of drugs that are used to treat are:

  • Zarontin
  • Lamictal
  • Depakene

A good practice is to have a medical identification bracelet worn by those who have absence seizures. This informs people on what to do in an emergency. It’s also a good idea to teach loved ones what to do if a seizure happens.

How do you prevent absence seizures?

One of the most effective strategies to treat is to take your medications exactly as advised by your doctor. However, you can make some lifestyle adjustments to help prevent absence seizures. These are some of them:

  • Each night, get plenty of rest.
  • Find techniques to cope with your anxiety.
  • Maintain a balanced diet.
  • Exercise regularly.

A Note from Apollo Hospitals/Apollo Group

Absence seizures affect roughly two out of every 1,000 people. They are produced by aberrant and strong electrical activity in the brain.

Nerve cells (neurons) in the brain normally communicate with one another by firing small electric signals. These signals, however, become aberrant during a seizure. 

Seizures can affect a single area of the brain or include aberrant activity throughout the entire brain (called generalized seizures). One type of generalized seizure is absence seizures

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if I suspect my child is suffering from absence seizures?

If you suspect your kid is suffering absence seizures, speak with your child’s doctor as soon as possible. Other types of seizures can be confused with it. Another reason why your child must see a doctor for a proper diagnosis is because of this. Consult an epilepsy specialist, also called an epileptologist,  if the diagnosis is unclear or your kid continues to have problems .

children who have absence seizures are usually not in danger. On the other hand, may cause your youngster to become agitated and cause:-

  • Having difficulties in school
  • Social issues
  • Misbehavior more frequently

How can I tell if my child is  I’m experiencing absence seizures or daydreaming?

Here are a few significant differences to check.

  1. Daydreaming
  • When your youngster is bored
  • It usually develops gradually.
  • It is possible to be interrupted.
  • It tends to continue until someone interrupts it (for example, the child’s attention is drawn by a teacher, a friend, or a parent).
  1. Absence Seizures 
  • It can happen at any time, including when exercising.
  • They usually appear out of nowhere.
  • Cannot be disturbed
  • They come to an end on their own, usually within 10-20 seconds.

How frequently will absence seizures occur if someone has them?

The frequency depends on the severity of the condition and it differs from person to person. There are instances of patients experiencing short absence seizures around 50 times a day. For most children, it can be controlled with seizure medications, which can lead to a significant reduction insignificantly reduce the number of seizure episodes.

Verified By Dr Sudhir Kumar
MBBS; MD (Internal Medicine); DM (Neurology), Senior Consultant Neurologist, Apollo Hospitals, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad
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