What are the Symptoms of Absence Seizures or Petit Mal Seizure

What are the Symptoms of Absence Seizures or Petit Mal Seizure

Absence seizures, more prevalent in children than adults, are characterized by brief, sudden unconsciousness, often causing the person to appear as if they are staring into space for a few seconds. Typically, these seizures do not result in physical injury.

Doctors typically prescribe anti-seizure medications to manage absence seizures. Although many children outgrow them as they reach their teenage years, some may develop other types of seizures.

Symptoms of Absence Seizures include:

  • A vacant stare, often mistaken for a brief lapse in attention lasting 10 to 15 seconds, without subsequent confusion, headache, or drowsiness.
  • Sudden cessation of movement without falling.
  • Lip smacking, eyelid flutters, chewing motions, finger rubbing, or small movements of both hands.
  • These seizures typically last for 10-15 seconds, followed by an immediate full recovery. However, they may occur frequently, interfering with daily activities. Individuals experiencing absence seizures may not recall the incidents afterward.

The brevity of absence seizures may make them difficult for adults to notice in children. Impaired learning ability due to lapses in consciousness may be the first indication of this disorder, often noted by a child’s teacher.

When to Seek Medical Attention:

  • If a seizure is observed for the first time, or if a new type of seizure occurs, or if anti-seizure medication fails to suppress it, medical attention is warranted.
  • Seizures lasting more than five minutes require immediate medical attention.
  • Prolonged automatic behaviors or confusion may indicate absence status epilepticus, necessitating immediate attention.

Absence seizures are more prevalent in children aged 4 to 10, with girls at a higher risk. Nearly half of children with absence seizures have a family history of seizures.