Absence seizures is characterized by lack of attention and the affected person appears to be unaware about his surrounding environment for a short amount of time.
Also known as petit mal seizures, in this condition the person shows momentary lapse of consciousness. So as such the person does not faint or collapse in absence seizures. However, if it is recurring (50 – 100 times in a day), especially during activities like swimming, the chances of drowning cannot be ruled out. Unlike other seizures, petit mal seizures in most cases, do not cause involuntary muscle movement. However, some patients do show twitching of eyelids or facial muscles.
In case of absence seizures, the person loses his alertness for a brief amount of time. In other words, the person is completely unaware of what is happening around him and so is unable to respond to any set of questions in that period of time. Fortunately, this phenomenon doesn’t last even for a minute. This unresponsive nature of the person is usually a 30 second phenomenon.
Petit mal seizures are a result of electrical disturbances in some part of the brain, that puts a person in a state of total unawareness and is accompanied by uncontrolled movement of hands or legs. Although, it lasts only for a short period, when these episodes occur more than 40 – 50 times in a day, it can be really annoying.
In some cases, the symptoms manifest in the form of stares. The person keeps gazing at one object, and loses alertness for a few seconds. For a viewer, it may appear as if the person is day dreaming. This diminished awareness is a hallmark of absence seizures in which the person does not communicate. Many a time, decreased awareness is marked by constant blinking of the eyes.
This type of seizure is usually noticed in children belonging to the age group of 5 – 15. As the child loses his ability to interact during a short episode of petit mal seizure, this brain disorder is also termed as a behavioral problem. During this period, the person is inattentive and that is why he is not in a position to respond.
What causes neurons (that send electrical signals) inside the brain to work in an improper manner is still unknown. However, many theories put forward by doctors indicate that a head injury might be the culprit. Doctors believe that presence of tumor in the brain or a stroke could also trigger this problem. Meningitis that causes swelling of the tissues covering the brain can also cause absence seizures. Alcoholism and drugs that affect normal brain function are some of the factors that may also trigger this seizure activity.
Keep in mind that treatment isn’t necessary, if this medical problem occurs once in a while. Occasional occurrence of this abnormal brain activity doesn’t need any medical attention. However, if episodes of petit mal seizures begin to affect the day-to-day routine, it cannot be neglected and may need urgent medical attention.
Treatment involves intake of seizure medications to manage this brain disorder effectively. Initially, the medicine is prescribed in small doses but if that doesn’t help the dose is increased to stop occurrence of seizures.
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.