Epilepsy is a nervous system disorder that causes seizures. Seizures are temporary changes in brain activity. Doctors categorize and treat different types of epilepsy based on the kind of seizure they cause. Absence seizures, or petit mal seizures, are brief, usually less than 15 seconds, and they have symptoms that may be barely noticeable. However, loss of consciousness, even for such a short time, can make absence seizures dangerous.
Absence seizures most commonly affect children from 5 to 9 years old. They can also occur in adults. Children with epilepsy may experience both absence and grand mal seizures. Grand mal seizures last longer and have more intense symptoms.
Signs and symptoms of absence seizures include:
• Sudden stop in motion without falling
• Lip smacking
• Finger rubbing
• Small movements of both hands
• Chewing motions
• Eyelid flutters
Afterward, there’s no memory of the incident. Some people have many episodes daily, which interfere with school or daily activities.
A child may have absence seizures for some time before an adult notices the seizures, because they’re so brief. A decline in a child’s learning ability may be the first sign of this disorder. Teachers may comment about a child’s inability to pay attention or that a child is often daydreaming.
Your brain is a complicated organ, and your body relies on it for many things. It maintains your heartbeat and breathing. The nerve cells in your brain send electrical and chemical signals to each other to communicate. A seizure interferes with this electrical activity in the brain. During an absence seizure, your brain’s electrical signals repeat themselves. A person who has absence seizures may also have altered levels of neurotransmitters. These are the chemical messengers that help cells communicate.
Researchers don’t know the specific cause for absence seizures. The condition may be genetic and able to pass down from generation to generation. Hyperventilation or flashing lights may trigger an absence seizure in others.
Risk Factors –
Certain factors are common to children who have absence seizures, including:
• Age. Absence seizures are more common in children between the ages of 4 and 14.
• Sex. Absence seizures are more common in girls.
• Family members who have seizures. Nearly half of children with absence seizures have a close relative who has seizures.
Difference between Daydreaming & Absence Seizures
• It is more likely to happen when your child is bored (for example, during a long class at school)
• Usually comes on slowly
• Can be interrupted
• Tends to continue until something stops it (for example, the teacher, a friend, or parent getting the child’s attention)
• Can happen anytime, including during physical activity
• Usually come on very suddenly, without warning
• Cannot be interrupted
• End on their own, typically within 10-20 seconds
While most children outgrow absence seizures, some:
• Must take anti-seizure medications throughout life to prevent seizures
• Eventually have full convulsions, such as generalized tonic-clonic seizures
Other complications can include:
• Learning difficulties
• Behavior problems
• Social isolation
• overall health
• pre-existing conditions
• imaging such as MRI scan and brain wave scans
Another way to diagnose the condition uses bright, flickering lights or hyperventilation to trigger a seizure. During this test, an electroencephalography machine measures brain waves to look for any changes to the brain’s functioning.
Certain seizure medicines can help prevent absence seizures. Usually these are recommended for most children. The medicines most commonly used includes-
• ethosuximide (Zarontin)
• lamotrigine (Lamictal)
• valproic acid (Depakene)
• divalproex sodium (Depakote)
In about 7 out of 10 children with this disease, the seizures may go away by age 18. If this happens, medicines may not be needed as an adult. Children who start having this type of seizures before age 9 are much more likely to outgrow them than children whose absence seizures start after age 10. For other children, seizure medication may be needed long-term.
Diet and Lifestyle
There are some guidelines in daily diet and lifestlyle which can be beneficial. These are as following –
• Patient should take proper rest.
• Eat proper & healthy diet.
• Meditation and relaxation techniques should be used regularly to ensure that stress does not disturb the electrical activities in the brain.
• Doing yoga, pranayam regularly have positive effect on nervous system.
Beneficial Ayurvedic Medications
• Brahmi Vati
• Jatamansi Churna
• Vacha Churna
• Vatakulantak Ras
• Rasraj Ras
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