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10/30/2020 Sophia Hogg

Absence Seizures

What are Absence Seizures?

Absence seizures include brief, sudden lapses of consciousness. They are more common in youngsters than in adults.

Someone having an absence seizure might look like he or she is staring blankly into space for a few moments. Then, there is a swift return to a normal level of alertness. This kind of seizure generally does not lead to physical injury.

Absence seizures generally could be controlled with anti-seizure medications. Some youngsters who have them also develop other seizures. Many youngsters outgrow absence seizures in their teens.

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Absence Seizures Symptoms

A sign of simple absence seizure is a vacant stare, which might be mistaken for a lapse in attention which lasts about ten seconds, though it might last as long as twenty seconds, without any confusion, headache or drowsiness afterward. Signs and symptoms of absence seizures involves:

  • Unexpected stop in motion without falling

  • Lip smacking

  • Eyelid flutters

  • Chewing motions

  • Finger rubbing

  • Small movements of both hands

Afterward, there is no memory of the incident. Some people have many incidents daily, which intervene with school or daily activities.

A child might have absence seizures for some time before an adult observes the seizures, because they are so brief. A decline in a child's learning ability might be the first sign of this disorder. Teachers might comment about a child's inability to pay attention or that a child is usually daydreaming.

When should you see a doctor?

Contact your doctor:

  • The first time you observe or notice a seizure
  • If this is a new form of seizure
  • If the seizures continue to happens despite taking anti-seizure medication

Contact 911 or emergency services in your area:

  • If you notice prolonged automatic behaviors lasting minutes to hours — activities like eating or moving without awareness — or prolonged confusion, possible symptoms of a condition known as absence status epilepticus.
  • After any seizure lasting more than 5 minutes.

Absence Seizures Causes

Many youngsters seem to have a genetic predisposition to absence seizures.

Generally, seizures are caused by abnormal electrical impulses from nerve cells or neurons in the brain. The brain's nerve cells generally transmit electrical and chemical signals across the synapses which connect them.

In people who have seizures, the brain's normal electrical activity is altered. At the time of absence seizure, these electrical signals recur themselves over and over in a three-second pattern.

People who have seizures might also have modified or altered levels of the chemical messengers which help the nerve cells communicate with one another (neurotransmitters).

Risk factors

Specific factors are common to children who have absence seizures, involving:

  • Age - Absence seizures are more common in youngsters between the ages of 4 and 14.

  • Sex - Absence seizures are more common in females.

  • Family members who suffered from seizures - Nearly half of children with absence seizures have a close relative who has suffered from seizures.


While most youngsters outgrow absence seizures, some:

  • Should take anti-seizure medications throughout life to prevent seizures

  • Eventually have full convulsions, like generalized tonic-clonic seizures

Other complications could involve:

  • Learning difficulties

  • Behavior problems

  • Social isolation


Your primary care physician will ask for a detailed description of the seizures and conduct a physical examination. Tests might include:

  • Electroencephalography (EEG) -This painless technique measures waves of electrical activity in the brain. Brain waves are sent to the Electroencephalography (EEG) machine via small electrodes attached or connected to the scalp with paste or an elastic cap.
    Rapid breathing (hyperventilation) during an Electroencephalography (EEG) study could activate an absence seizure. At the time of a seizure, the pattern on the Electroencephalography (EEG) differs from the normal pattern.

  • Brain scans -In absence seizures, brain-imaging studies, like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), will be normal. But tests like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) could produce detailed images of the brain, which could help rule out other complications, like a stroke or a brain tumor. Because your child will be required to hold still for long periods, talk with your primary care physician about the possible use of sedation.

Absence Seizures Treatment

Your primary care physician likely will begin at the lowest dose of anti-seizure medication possible and increase the dosage as required to control the seizures. Children might be able to taper off anti-seizure medications, under a primary care physician’s supervision, after they have been seizure-free for 2 years.

Drugs prescribed for absence seizure involves:

  • Ethosuximide (Zarontin) -This is the drug most primary care physicians begin with for absence seizures. In most cases, seizures react well to this drug. Possible side effects involve nausea, vomiting, sleepiness, trouble sleeping, and hyperactivity.

  • Valproic acid (Depakene) -Girls who continue to require medication into adulthood should discuss potential risks of valproic acid with their doctors. Valproic acid has been related with higher risk of birth defects in babies, and primary care physicians advise women against using it during pregnancy or while trying to conceive.
    Primary care physicians might suggest the use of valproic acid in children who have both absence and grand mal (tonic-clonic) seizures.

  • Lamotrigine (Lamictal) -Some studies show this drug to be less useful than ethosuximide or valproic acid, but it has fewer side effects. Side effects might involve rash and nausea.

If you or anyone you know is suffering from absence seizures, the expert providers at Specialty Care Live will take care of your health and help you recover.

Call 469-805-4561 to book a telehealth appointment for an at home check up. You can request a callback from us too.