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 Absence seizure (petit mal seizure)

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PostSubject: Absence seizure (petit mal seizure)   Sun Feb 26, 2012 9:40 pm

Absence seizure — also known as petit mal — involves a brief, sudden lapse of consciousness. Absence seizures are more common in children than adults. Someone having an absence seizure may look like he or she is staring into space for a few seconds.
Compared with other types of epileptic seizures, absence seizures appear mild. But they can be dangerous. Children with a history of absence seizure must be supervised carefully while swimming or bathing because of the danger of drowning. Teens and adults may be restricted from driving and other potentially hazardous activities.
Absence seizures usually can be controlled with anti-seizure medications. Some children who have absence seizures also have grand mal seizures. Many children outgrow absence seizures in their teen years.
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PostSubject: Re: Absence seizure (petit mal seizure)   Sun Feb 26, 2012 9:43 pm


Signs of absence seizures include:

  • Vacant stare
  • Absence of motion without falling
  • Lip smacking
  • Eyelid flutters
  • Chewing motions
  • Hand movements
  • Small movements of both arms
Absence seizures last only a few seconds. Full recovery is almost instantaneous. Afterward, there's no confusion, but also no memory of the incident. Some people experience dozens of these episodes each day, which interferes with their performance at school or work.
Children who are walking or doing other complex tasks during a seizure probably won't fall, though they'll be unaware.
Absence seizures in a child may occur for some time before an adult notices them, because they're so brief. A noticeable decline in a child's learning ability may be the first sign of this disorder. Teachers may comment about a child's inability to pay attention.
When to see a doctor
Contact your doctor:

  • The first time you notice a seizure
  • If you have a new type of seizure
Seek immediate medical attention:

  • If you observe prolonged automatic behaviors — activities such as eating or moving without awareness — or prolonged confusion, possible symptoms of a condition called absence status epilepticus
  • After any seizure lasting more than five minutes
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PostSubject: Re: Absence seizure (petit mal seizure)   Sun Feb 26, 2012 9:43 pm


Often, no underlying cause can be found for absence seizures. Many children appear to have a genetic predisposition to them. Sometimes hyperventilation can trigger an absence seizure.
In general, seizures are caused by abnormal nerve cell (neuron) activity in the brain. The brain's nerve cells normally communicate with each other by sending electrical and chemical signals across the synapses that connect the cells. In people who have seizures, the brain's usual electrical activity is altered. During an absence seizure, these electrical signals repeat themselves over and over in a three-second pattern.
People who have seizures may also have altered levels of neurotransmitters, which are the chemical messengers that help the nerve cells communicate with one another.
This type of seizure may be more prevalent in children. Many children gradually outgrow absence seizures over months to years.
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PostSubject: Re: Absence seizure (petit mal seizure)   Sun Feb 26, 2012 9:44 pm


While most children outgrow absence seizures, some people may find that they are:

  • Experiencing these types of seizures throughout life
  • Eventually experiencing full convulsions (grand mal or generalized tonic-clonic seizures)
Other complications can include:

  • Learning difficulties
  • Absence status epilepticus, a condition in which seizure behavior lasts longer than a few minutes
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