What's absence seizure (petit mal seizure)?
Absence seizure e - also known as petit mal seizure - is a type of seizure that most often occurs in children. An abnormal electrical discharge in the brain causes seizures. Other types of seizures include grand mal seizure and temporal lobe seizure. A absence seizure is a temporary disturbance of brain function caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain and characterized by abrupt, short-term lack of conscious activity ("absence") or other abnormal change in behavior.
Absence seizures occur most commonly in people under age 20, usually in children ages 6 to 12. They may occur in combination with other types of seizures. Typical absence seizures last only a few seconds, with full recovery occurring rapidly and no lingering confusion. Such seizures usually manifest themselves as staring episodes or "absence spells" during which the child's activity or speech ceases.
The child may stop talking in mid-sentence or cease walking. One to several seconds later, speech or activity resume. If standing or walking, a child seldom falls during one of these episodes. "Spells" can be infrequent or very frequent, occurring many times per hour. Up to hundreds of seizures can occur in a single day. They may occur for weeks to months before they are noticed. They can interfere with school function and learning. Teachers may interpret these seizures as lack of attention or other misbehavior. Atypical absence seizures begin slower, last longer, and may have more noticeable muscle activity than typical absence seizures. There is usually no memory of the seizure. No cause can usually be found for typical absence seizures. No neurologic or other disorders are usually discovered. Atypical seizures may or may not be associated with other neurologic disorders.
Causes may be unidentifiable, or identified as congenital brain abnormalities, complications of kidney or liver disease, or brain injuries from trauma or birth complications. Sometimes, a family history of seizures indicates a hereditary type of seizures. Absence seizures often affect people younger than 20, and children between the ages of 6 and 12 are most likely to have them. This type of seizure can run in families. Most children with absence seizures have an otherwise normal neurologic system. Many can expect to outgrow the disorder. Children who were young when the seizures first started, who have no other neurologic problems and who have seizures well controlled by medications are most likely to outgrow their seizures. In about half of children with absence seizures, the seizures will progress to grand mal seizures.
During an absence seizure, a child is mentally absent from the surroundings — temporarily unaware of what is happening around him or her. For a few brief seconds, the child stops what he or she is doing, stares straight ahead, and does not respond to an adult's command to pay attention or wake up. While the seizure is happening, the child's eyelids may blink or flicker rapidly or an arm or leg may twitch, jerk or move without purpose. After the seizure ends, the child has no memory of the episode and usually resumes previous activities as if nothing happened.
Because a child with absence epilepsy can have many brief seizures during a school day, the disorder may interfere seriously with the ability to pay attention and participate in class. For this reason, a teacher may be the first adult to notice that something is wrong. If the teacher is not familiar with absence seizures, he or she simply may complain that the child is not paying attention, looks out of it or appears to be daydreaming. Outside the classroom, the child's symptoms may affect the ability to concentrate when he or she plays sports or does homework. Seizures also may interrupt conversations with friends or family members
The physical examination is usually normal, although some neurologic abnormalities may be present in some patients.Transmission of information from nerve cell to nerve cell occurs by an electrochemical process that can be detected as electrical activity by an electroencephalograph (EEG). A single or multiple EEG exams may be necessary to show changes typical of absence seizures. Occasionally, a patient may need to have EEG monitoring from 1 to several days to detect these EEG changes. Various laboratory tests, a head CT scan, or a head MRI may be used to rule out specific causes of the seizures.
As seizures can interfere with learning or result in injury, the goal of treatment is to prevent or minimize the number of seizures and to minimize any side effects of the treatments. In some cases, treatment of identifiable causes may reduce or eliminate seizures. Anticonvulsant (antiseizure) medications may prevent or minimize the number of seizures. Absence seizures usually respond to valproic acid, ethosuximide, clonazepam, and certain other drugs. Response to medications varies and the medication and dosage may have to be adjusted repeatedly. For some drugs, monitoring of plasma drug levels is important for continued control of seizures and reduction of medication side effects. Absence status epilepticus (multiple, frequently-repeated seizures) may be treated with intravenous medications and other treatments.
More information on epilepsy (seizures)
What is epilepsy? - Epilepsy is a general term that includes various types of seizures. Epilepsy is characterized by unprovoked, recurring seizures that disrupt the nervous system.
What are seizures? - Seizures (or convulsions) are temporary alterations in brain functions due to abnormal electrical activity of a group of brain cells that present with apparent clinical symptoms and findings.
What types of seizures are there? - The two main categories of seizures include partial seizures and generalized seizures. A partial seizure can evolve to a generalized seizure.
What types of epilepsy are there? - There are several types of epilepsy. Epilepsy can be divided into two broad categories: idiopathic epilepsy and symptomatic epilepsy.
What're the common types of epilepsy? - The most common types of epilepsy are absence epilepsy, temporal lobe epilepsy, frontal lobe epilepsy, occipital lobe epilepsy, and parietal lobe epilepsy.
What causes epilepsy? - Epilepsy may be caused by a number of unrelated conditions, including damage resulting from high fever, stroke, toxicity, or electrolyte imbalances.
What causes children epilepsy? - There are many possible causes of epilepsy in children. Seizures in infants and children may be due to birth defects, difficulties during delivery, or poisoning.
What factors will trigger epilepsy? - The triggers of epilepsy include inadequate sleep, food allergies, alcohol and smoking, flashing lights, developmental anomalies, and brain tumours.
What're the symptoms of epilepsy? - There are many forms of epilepsy, each with its own characteristic symptoms. The basic symptom of epilepsy is a brief and abnormal phase of behavior.
How is epilepsy diagnosed? - Making an accurate diagnosis is vital in planning the correct treatment to control seizures. Taking a medical history can help rule out non-epilepsy conditions.
What're the treatments for epilepsy? - For most people with epilepsy, treatment can reduce or prevent seizures and allow many patients to remain free of seizures for the rest of their lives.
What epilepsy medications are available? - Epilepsy is often treated with medication, neurocybernetic prostheses. Medications available for the treatment of seizures include phenytoin, carbamazepine, divalproex.
What epilepsy surgeries are available? - Surgical techniques to remove injured brain tissue may be appropriate for many patients with epilepsy. The most common surgery for epilepsy is temporal lobectomy.
What is vagus nerve stimulation? - Vagus nerve stimulation is a recently developed form of seizure control which uses an implanted electrical device.
What epilepsy diet is suggested? - It is believe that a restricted caloric intake while on a balanced diet can lead to measurable seizure reduction among all age groups.
How to prevent epilepsy? - Effective actions for the prevention of epilepsy include adequate pre-natal and post-natal care, safe delivery, control of fever in children, control of parasitic diseases.
Epilepsy in children - Epilepsy is a common childhood disorder. The prospect of control by means of anti-epileptic drugs is good in most children with epilepsy.
Pregnancy and epilepsy - Women with epilepsy who become pregnant have a higher risk for complications than women who don't have epilepsy.
Difference between seizures and epilepsy - Seizures are a symptom of epilepsy. Epilepsy is the underlying tendency of the brain to produce a sudden burst of electrical energy.
What's a grand mal seizure? - A grand mal seizure is a seizure involving the entire body, usually characterized by muscle rigidity, violent rhythmic muscle contractions, and loss of consciousness.
What's absence seizure (petit mal seizure)? - Absence seizure e - also known as petit mal seizure - is a type of seizure that most often occurs in children.
What is a febrile seizure? - A febrile seizure is a convulsion in a child triggered by a fever. A febrile seizure may be as mild as the child's eyes rolling or limbs stiffening.
What are epileptic seizures? - An epileptic seizure, often referred to as a fit, occurs when there is an abnormal discharge of neurones in the brain.
What is status epilepticus? - Status epilepticus is a continuous seizure state. Status epilepticus is most often caused by not taking anticonvulsant medication as prescribed.
What causes seizures? - Seizures may be caused by many conditions, diseases, injuries, and other factors. Injuries that may cause seizures include choking, head injury.