Absence Seizures
Seizure eTraining Slide 10

  • No aura
  • Begins and ends abruptly (few seconds)
  • Brief myoclonic jerking of the eyelids or facial muscles
  • Staring into space
  • Lapse of awareness
  • Prompt recovery

More common in children than in adults, absence seizures almost always start between ages 4 and 12 years. They rarely begin after age 20.

Sometimes, the only clue that a person is having an absence seizure is rapid blinking or a few seconds of staring into space neither speaking nor apparently hearing what is said. Then, as abruptly as it began, the impairment lifts and the child continues with his or her previous activity . There is no warning and no after-effect. Absence seizures are frequently so brief that they escape detection, even if the child is experiencing 50 to 100 attacks daily. More prolonged episodes may be accompanied by automatisms (unconscious tic such as lip smacking or chewing).

 No immediate first aid is usually necessary, but if this is the first observation of an absence seizure, medical evaluation is recommended.

Most children with typical absence seizures are otherwise normal. About half the children also have infrequent generalized tonic-clonic seizures.


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