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absence seizures

(sometimes 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.