Absence seizures also referred as petit mal seizures are one of the different types of seizures. An absence seizure is characterized by the blank stare into space with or without slight twitching of the eye muscles. A person may lose consciousness for a brief period of about 10 to 20 seconds. This seizure is of such a short duration that no one will ever notice it. Absence seizures in adults includes some restrictions put on the individuals. The person is not allowed to drive, operate heavy machinery or carry out jobs that require mental alertness. In case of absence seizures in children, the patient should not be allowed to swim, cycle or carry out any similar activities unsupervised.
When a person experiences absence seizures, he/ she never has any memory of it. The person may show the following absence seizures symptoms:
- Staring into space blankly
- Lip smacking or mouth movements as if tasting something
- Eyelids flutter
- Small hand movements
- The person may walk around aimlessly
After the seizure that generally lasts a few seconds, the person recovers instantly. The individual does not look confused or have any memory of having a seizure. Some people may have over 50 to 100 seizures in just one single day. This causes a lot of problems in their work or school. A person who is having a seizure while walking, probably will not fall down like in grand mal seizure. They will continue to walk or carry out their activity without remaining conscious.
Atypical absence seizures are those seizures that are not typical. This means the person tends to stare like in a typical absence seizure, but is slightly responsive. They may show eye blinking movements or jerk their lips slightly. This atypical absence seizure becomes very difficult to spot as they are similar to a person's usual behavior. This kind of behavior is very common in people with cognitive impairment. These seizures are generally seen in children with below average intelligence or those who have other types of seizures that get uncontrollable. Atypical absence seizure in children can continue to occur during adulthood.
The treatment of absence seizures includes use of medications. These medications are very useful in reducing as well as eliminating this condition. One needs to follow the absence seizures medication dosage religiously to overcome the problem. The right dosage and medication is generally decided by a trial and error method for each individual.
A person with typical absence seizures are generally seen responding to certain medications. The typical absence seizures medication includes ethosuximide, valproate or lamotrigine as the initial drugs. The second line drugs may include topiramate and zonisamide for typical absence seizures that do not have a history of grand mal seizures.
Patients with typical absence seizures with a history of grand mal or tonic clonic seizures are treated with alproate and lamotrigine. Topiramate, zonisamide and levetiracetam may be considered as second line drugs for treatment with history of grand mal. Atypical absence seizures treatment includes prescription of valproate, lamotrigine and topiramate as medications. The second line drugs for atypical absence seizures treatment includes zonisamide and levetiracetam that may be given after the effects of the first line medications are weaned off.
When beginning with the treatment of absence seizures, the doctors advises the lowest dose of the medication. He will monitor the effects of the absence seizure medication and then increase the dose gradually, if needed. Female patients who are on absence seizures medication should avoid using valproic acid. This drug is said to cause serious complications in the fetus and therefore you need to speak to your doctor before you plan to conceive.
Most of the time, atypical seizures medications are discontinued by doctors when a patient remains free of seizures for 2 continuous years. You should speak to your doctor regarding treatment of absence seizures and help cut down the number of seizures experienced.
The information in this article is intended as a supplement to, not as a substitute for, the expert and professional medical prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of a healthcare professional. The reader is advised to consult with a medical consultant before taking any home remedies, supplements or following any treatment advised. A medical consultant will be able to provide the reader with advice that is safe and effective for an individual's specific needs and diagnose a particular health problem based on their personal medical history.