An absence seizure is the term because that a form of seizure including staring spells. This form of seizure is a short (usually less than 15 seconds) disturbance of mind function because of abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

You are watching: An absence seizure is a brief disturbance in brain function in which there is a loss of awareness.


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The significant areas the the mind have one or more specific functions.


Seizures an outcome from overactivity in the brain. Absence seizures occur most often in world under age 20, normally in youngsters ages 4 to 12.

In some cases, the seizures are prompted by flashing lamp or once the human being breathes faster and an ext deeply than usual (hyperventilates).

They may occur with other species of seizures, such as generalised tonic-clonic seizures (grand mal seizures), twitches or jerks (myoclonus), or suddenly loss of muscle toughness (atonic seizures).


Having a brain seizure deserve to be a terrifying experience. If you have actually a seizure an ext than once, friend may have epilepsy, a difficulty with electrical task in your brain. So, what causes epilepsy? For most people, the brain sends electrical signals transparent the human body efficiently, in a coordinated way. In epilepsy, however, the normal pattern that electrical task becomes disturbed. This causes the brain to be as well excitable, or jumpy, and also it sends out abnormal signals. The result is repeated seizures that can occur at any type of time. Epilepsy seizures usually start between ages 5 and also 20, but they can occur at any age. Common reasons include Stroke, or a mini-stroke dubbed transient ischemic attack; Dementia, or lose of brain function, such together Alzheimer"s disease; Traumatic brain injury; epidemic in the brain; mind problems you are born with; or perhaps, a brain tumor. Some world with epilepsy may have straightforward staring spells, if others have actually violent, uncontrollable shaking and loss the consciousness. Before each seizure, some human being may have strange sensations, such as tingling, smell an odor that isn"t yes, really there, or emotionally changes. This is referred to as an aura. Your physician will carry out a number of tests to discover out if epilepsy is resulting in your seizures. One test, one electroencephalogram or EEG, checks her brain"s electric activity. Other tests can take comprehensive pictures of the part of your mind that is bring about your seizures. Your medical professional will most most likely start treating your epilepsy v medication. This medicines, dubbed anticonvulsants, may reduce the number of seizures you have actually in the future. Sometimes, transforming the diet the a kid with epilepsy can help prevent seizures. Your doctor will probably talk to you about making some transforms in her life, such together reducing her stress, getting an ext sleep, and avoiding alcohol and recreational drugs. Surgical treatment to eliminate a brain tumor or abnormal blood vessels or brain cells might make the seizures stop. An additional surgery can place a Vagus nerve stimulator in her brain. This machine is choose a pacemaker for your mind that borders the variety of seizures friend have. For many people, epilepsy is a lifelong problem, and they"ll always need to take anti-seizure medicines. There is a an extremely low threat of sudden fatality with epilepsy. However, you, or someone else, have the right to be seriously injured if you have actually a seizure when driving or operation equipment. If her seizures are uncontrolled, you must not drive.


Most absence seizures last just a couple of seconds. They often involve staring episodes. The episodes may:

Occur many times a dayOccur for weeks to months before being noticedInterfere with school and also learningBe mistaken for absence of attention, daydreaming or other misbehavior

Unexplained challenges in school and learning obstacles may be the an initial sign of absence seizures.

During the seizure, the human being may:

Stop walking and also start again a few seconds laterStop talking in mid-sentence and start again a few seconds later on

The person usually does not fall during the seizure.

Right after the seizure, the human being is usually:

Wide awakeThinking clearlyUnaware of the seizure

Specific symptoms of typical absence seizures might include:

Some absence seizures start slower and last longer. This are dubbed atypical absence seizures. Symptoms are similar to regular absence seizures, yet muscle activity changes might be more noticeable.


The doctor will carry out a physical exam. This will encompass a thorough look in ~ the mind and nervous system.

An EEG (electroencephalogram) will be done to inspect the electrical activity in the brain. Civilization with seizures frequently have abnormal electrical task seen ~ above this test. In some cases, the test shows the area in the mind where the seizures start. The brain may show up normal after a seizure or in between seizures.

Blood exam may additionally be ordered to check for other health problems that might be leading to the seizures.

Head CT or MRI scan might be excellent to find the cause and also location the the problem in the brain.


Treatment for absence seizures includes medicines, alters in lifestyle for adults and children, together as activity and diet, and sometimes surgery. Her doctor have the right to tell you more about these options.


Abou-Khalil BW, Gallagher MJ, mc donalds RL. Epilepsies. In: Daroff RB, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SL, eds. Bradley"s Neurology in Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 101.

Kanner AM, Ashman E, Gloss D, et al. Practice guideline update summary: Efficacy and also tolerability that the brand-new antiepileptic drugs I: therapy of new-onset epilepsy: Report the the reminder Development, Dissemination, and also Implementation Subcommittee that the American Academy that Neurology and the American Epilepsy Society. Neurology. 2018;91(2):74-81. PMID: 29898971 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29898971/.

Marcdante KJ, Kliegman RM. Seizures. In: Marcdante KJ, Kliegman RM, eds. Nelson Essentials of Pediatrics. 8 hours ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 181.

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Wiebe S. The epilepsies. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 375.


Reviewed by: Amit M. Shelat, DO, FACP, FAAN, Attending Neurologist and Assistant Professor the Clinical Neurology, Stony Brook University institution of Medicine, Stony Brook, NY. Review detailed by VeriMed healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, clinical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.