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What is an Absence Seizure?
Absence seizure — also known as petit mal seizure — involves a brief, sudden lapse of conscious activity. Occurring most often in children, an absence seizure may look like the person is merely staring into space for a few seconds.
Typical absence seizures begin abruptly, last 10 to 30 seconds, and resolve themselves without complication. The person simply stops in his tracks (and/or mid-sentence), and enters a staring, trance-like state during which he is unresponsive and unaware of his surroundings. He may make fumbling movements with his hands, and there may also be eyelid fluttering, lip smacking, or chewing motions during the seizure. When the seizure passes, the person returns to normal, with no memory of the event and no lingering effects. Generally speaking, typical absence seizures have no discernible cause.
Compared with other types of epileptic seizures, absence seizures appear mild. But that doesn't mean they can't be dangerous, states the Mayo Clinic’s website. “Children with a history of absence seizure must be supervised carefully while swimming or bathing, because of the danger of drowning. Teens and adults may also be restricted from driving and other potentially hazardous activities.”
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