•Absence seizures are lapses of awareness, sometimes with staring. •They begin and end abruptly, lasting only a few seconds. •More common in children. •Absence seizures can be so brief that they sometimes are not detected for months.
What is an absence seizure?
An absence seizure causes a short period of “blanking out” or staring into space. Like other kinds of seizures, they are caused by abnormal activity in a person’s brain. You may also hear people call absence seizures petit mal (“PUH-tee mahl”) seizures, although that name is not common anymore.
There are two types of absence seizures:
Simple absence seizures: During a simple absence seizure, a person usually just stares into space for less than 10 seconds. Because they happen so quickly, it’s very easy not to notice simple absence seizures — or to confuse them with daydreaming or not paying attention. What’s it like to have an absence seizure?
When people have absence seizures, they are unaware of what’s going on around them.
For example, they won’t notice if someone tries to talk to them. If they were saying something when the seizure started, they may stop talking in the middle of a sentence.
Some people have absence seizures for years before they know that anything’s wrong.
Absence seizures are most likely to affect children, and it’s common for children not to pay attention for short periods of time — for example, at school. In fact, the first clue a parent might have that a child is having absence seizures is that the child is having trouble in school.
What happens after an absence seizure?
When an absence seizure ends, the person usually continues doing whatever they were doing before the seizure.