An indication of simple absence seizure is a vacant stare, which may be mistaken for a lapse in attention that lasts 10 to 15 seconds, without any subsequent confusion, headache or drowsiness. Signs and symptoms of absence seizures include:
- Sudden stop in motion without falling
- Lip smacking
- Eyelid flutters
- Chewing motions
- Finger rubbing
- Small movements of both hands
Absence seizures generally last 10 to 15 seconds, followed immediately by full recovery. Afterward, there's no memory of the incident. Some people have dozens of episodes daily, which interfere with school or daily activities.
A child may have absence seizures for some time before an adult notices the seizures, because they're so brief. A 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 this is a new type of seizure
- If the seizures continue to occur despite being placed on anti-seizure medication
Seek immediate medical attention:
June 03, 2014
- 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
- Korff CM. Childhood absence epilepsy. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 3, 2014.
- Absence seizures. The Epilepsy Foundation. http://www.epilepsy.com/learn/types-seizures/absence-seizures. Accessed April 3, 2014.
- Stafstrom CE, et al. Pathophysiology of seizures and epilepsy. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 3, 2014.
- Glauser TA, et al. Ethosuximide, valproic acid, and lamotrigine in childhood absence epilepsy. New England Journal of Medicine. 2010;362:790.
- Jentink J, et al. Valproic acid monotherapy in pregnancy and major congenital malformations. New England Journal of Medicine. 2010;362:2185.
- Safety information: Stavzor (valproic acid) delayed release capsules. http://www.fda.gov/safety/medwatch/safetyinformation/ucm360495.htm. Accessed April 3, 2014.