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Absence Seizures: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment and Complications

Oct 31, 2023

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Causes Of Absence Seizures

Symptoms Of Absence Seizures

Risk factors Of Absence Seizures

Diagnosis Of Of Absence Seizures

Treatment Of Absence Seizures

Complications Of Absence Seizures

Absence Seizures: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment and Complications

Absence seizures are characterized by brief, abrupt lapses of consciousness. Children are more prone to have them than adults.

A person having an absence seizure can seem to stare off into space for a few seconds. The person typically regains consciousness quite quickly after that. This type of seizure usually causes no damage to the body. On the other hand, damage could happen when the person is unconscious. This is particularly true if the individual is experiencing a seizure while riding a bike or driving a car.

Absence seizures are usually manageable with anti-seizure drugs. Some children who experience them also experience other types of seizures, such as generalized tonic-clonic or myoclonic seizures. Many youngsters outgrow absence seizures in their teens.

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Causes Of Absence Seizures

Absence seizures are usually genetically based.

An electrical impulse burst from the brain's neurons, or nerve cells, is frequently the cause of seizures. Neurons often communicate electrically and chemically across their synapses.

Seizures cause abnormal changes in the brain's normal electrical activity. During an absence seizure, these electrical signals regularly recur in a pattern of three seconds.

Changes in the levels of chemical messengers, which let nerve cells communicate with one another, may also be linked to seizures.

Symptoms Of Absence Seizures

When someone is having a simple absence seizure, a blank look could be mistaken for a brief attention deficit. The seizure typically lasts 10 seconds, although it can last up to 30. There is no headache, exhaustion, or confusion following the seizure.

Absence-characterized seizures include:

  • Sudden stop of movement without a fall.
  • Lip-smacking
  • Eyelid flutters.
  • Chewing motions
  • Scrubbing hands.
  • Small motions using both hands.

Memories of the event are usually lost after it happens. If the seizure lasts longer, though, the person may become aware of the of time. Some people experience multiple instances per day. When it happens, it could make things difficult for homework or daily responsibilities.

It could take some time for an adult to identify absence seizures in a child. This is a result of the seizures happening so fast. A child's diminished ability to learn may be the first sign of a seizure disorder. Teachers may observe that a child has trouble focusing or that they daydream a lot.

Risk factors Of Absence Seizures

Children who suffer from absence seizures often exhibit specific traits, like:

  • Age: Absence seizures are more common in children in the age group of 5 to 14 years.
  • Sex: Absence seizures are more common in women.
  • Family history: About one-quarter of children with absence seizures have a close relative who also has seizures.

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Diagnosis Of Of Absence Seizures

Your child's physician will likely request a detailed history of the seizures. Likely, the physician will also do a physical examination. Testing might entail:

  • EEG: The acronym for electroencephalogram is EEG. This non-invasive method finds brain waves associated with electrical activity. To provide brain signals to the EEG apparatus, little metal plates called electrodes are placed on the scalp using paste or an elastic cap. During an EEG study, hyperventilation, or rapid breathing, may result in the absence of seizures. During a seizure, the EEG pattern deviates from the baseline pattern.
  • Brain imaging: The exclusion of other conditions such as a brain tumour or stroke can be aided by neuroimaging methods such as MRI. Finely detailed brain images are produced via brain scans. As your child must remain still for long periods, talk with your healthcare provider about the possible use of sedation.

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Treatment Of Absence Seizures

Your child may be started on the lowest possible dosage of the anti-seizure drug. To stop the seizures, the doctor may then increase the dosage. Under the supervision of a medical practitioner, children who have not experienced seizures for two years may be allowed to gradually wean off anti-seizure medication.

The following list of medications is suggested for absence seizures:

  • Ethoximide, also known as zanottin: The majority of medical practitioners start treating absence seizures with this drug. This medicine usually has a favorable reaction to seizures. Possible side effects include sleepiness, hyperactivity, nausea, vomiting, and trouble sleeping.
  • Valproic acid: Valproic acid is used to treat children who have grand mal seizures, also known as absence and tonic-clonic seizures. Its side effects include increased appetite, weight gain, nausea, and difficulty concentrating. In rare cases, the drug may cause pancreatitis and liver failure. Birth defects have been associated with a higher incidence in babies exposed to valproic acid. Doctors typically advise against using it while trying to conceive or while carrying a child.
  • Lamotrigine: Several trials suggest that this medicine may not be as effective as ethosuximide or valproic acid while having fewer adverse effects. There may also be nausea and redness as side effects.

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Complications Of Absence Seizures

While most children outgrow their absence seizures and for some Lifetime anti-seizure medicine is necessary and they eventually experience convulsions, similar to widespread tonic-clonic seizures.

Other potential problems include:

  • Difficulties in learning.
  • Behavioral problems.
  • Social isolation
  • A seizure-related injury.

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