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absence seizures

(previously called petit mal)

Absence seizures are more common in children than adults and can happen very frequently. During an absence a person becomes unconscious for a short time. They may look blank and stare, or their eyelids might flutter. They will not respond to what is happening around them. If they are walking they may carry on walking but will not be aware of what they are doing.

What happens during an absence seizure

Watch this video to find out what happens during an absence seizure. During an absence a person becomes unconscious for a short period of time.

During a typical absence the person becomes blank and unresponsive for a few seconds. They may appear to be 'daydreaming'. The seizures may not be noticed because they are brief.

The person may stop what they are doing, look blank and stare, or their eyelids might blink or flutter. They will not respond to what is happening around them. If they are walking they may carry on walking, but will not be aware of what they are doing.

Atypical absences are similar to typical absences but they start and end more slowly, and last a bit longer than typical absences. As they also include a change in muscle tone, where the limbs go limp or floppy, some people may fall.

Our Helpline Appeal

We are desperate to extend our Helpline opening hours to five days a week, so that we can answer more calls from people like Louise. You can help us to do this by donating to our Helpline Appeal. Thanks to a very generous supporter, all gifts donated before 31 December will be doubled. So, if you donate £10, that will instantly increase to £20. And with Gift Aid added, your £10 will grow to £25. Everyone needs someone to talk to. Please help us to be there when we are needed.

 

Find out about other seizure types