Absence seizures are characterized by a sudden lapse of consciousness that is caused due to abnormal electrical activity in the brain. These are more common in children. The following HealthHearty write-up provides information on these seizures.
Absence seizures are also known as petit mal seizures. The incidence of petit mal seizures is higher in children. A child having such a seizure appears to be staring into space for a short period. There is no jerking or twitching of the body involved. In rare cases, the affected child may lose consciousness. The episode may last for a few seconds. Some children can have over a dozen episodes in a single day. The episodes are mild, in comparison to other types of seizures. However, they are just as dangerous. This type of seizure is further categorized into simple and complex seizure. In the former, the child just stares. In case of the latter, there is a change in the muscle activity. The signs might include lip smacking, eyelid flutter, hand movements, etc., and the episodes can last for more than 10 seconds.
Children in the age group of about 4 to 14 years are more likely to get affected. These children have normal growth and intelligence pattern. Children who start having such episodes before the age of 9, outgrow this condition by the time they are 10 to 12 years of age. The complex seizures rarely occur more than several times a day or in a week. Whereas the simple ones could occur many times in a day.
There are certain symptoms that parents, as well as teachers should watch out for. These include:
- Staring into space without any unusual movement
- Smacking of lips
- Fluttering eyelids
- Fidgeting with hands
These symptoms last for only a few seconds. Once the child recovers from the seizure, he is neither confused nor has a memory of the seizure. Some children may have over 100 episodes that could lead to many problems in their school work. This is one of the reasons that leads to behavioral problems, learning problems, and social awkwardness in affected children.
A child who is walking or standing while having an episode is less likely to fall down. Due to the brief duration of the episodes, it might be very difficult for parents or teachers to catch the symptoms. The child too has no memory of these episodes and will probably never complain about having experienced one.
Most of the time, first aid is not required. If the child continues to perform activities like eating or moving or walking around without being aware of the surroundings, you need to seek immediate medical attention. This is a symptom of a dangerous type of seizure called the absence status epilepticus. Also, if the episode lasts for more than 5 minutes, you must seek advice from an epilepsy specialist.
There are no medications that can help cure epilepsy. However, there are medications that help in bringing down the number of seizures a child has. These medications fortunately have little or no side effects. You need to speak to the doctor regarding the dose and type of medication that will be suitable for your child. Do not administer any medication or drug to your child without your doctor’s advice.
Most of the children stop having such episodes by the time they are about 12 years old. In rare cases, some of these children may develop other types of seizures. Most children do not require any medications for epilepsy for the rest of their life. Adults who have such episodes are restricted from driving, operating heavy machinery, and carrying out jobs that require mental alertness.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.