Absence Seizures


The vast majority of absence seizures begin during childhood, most commonly from age 4 – 14. However, less often, older teens and adults may also have absence seizures. 

Some people have absence seizures for many months or years before it’s recognized as a problem.

What causes this delay?

  • It’s very common for people to mistake absence seizures for daydreaming or not paying attention.
  • Absence seizures are most likely to affect children, and paying attention is a common problem for children. Since daydreaming can happen often in school for many different reasons, it may be hard to know if the staring is a seizure or not.
  • Often the first clue that a child may be having absence seizures is when he or she starts having trouble in school.
  • When people have absence seizures, they are not aware of what is happening around them. For example, they will not notice if someone tries to speak to them during a seizure.
  • If a person is speaking when their seizure begins, they will stop talking, often in the middle of a sentence. It may seem like a pause to an observer.
  • Often a child may have many absence seizures in a row.
  • An observer may not see the beginning or end of a seizure. The person may just look confused and not know what has happened.

Authored By:

Elaine Kiriakopoulos MD, MSc
Patty Obsorne Shafer RN, MN

on Monday, August 26, 2019

Reviewed By:

Elaine Wirrell MD
Joseph I. Sirven MD
Robert Fisher MD, PhD

on Monday, August 26, 2019


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