An absence seizure formally called petit mal causes a short period of “blanking out” or staring into space. When people have absence seizures, they are unaware of what’s going on around them. During the seizure the person may blink over and over so it looks like they’re fluttering their eyelids . Frequency may vary from a rare event to 100 times a day. Absence seizures are so brief that they frequently escape detection. learn more
In 7 out of 10 kids with absence seizures will stop by age 18. Children who start having absence seizures before age 9 are much more likely to outgrow them than children whose absence seizures start after age 10.
There are two types of absence seizures:
Simple absence seizures:
During a simple absence seizure, a person usually just stares into space for less than 10 seconds. Because they happen so quickly, it’s very easy not to notice simple absence seizures — or to confuse them with daydreaming or not paying attention.
Complex absence seizures:
During a complex absence seizure, a person will make some kind of movement in addition to staring into space. Movements may include blinking, chewing, or hand gestures. A complex absence seizure can last up to 20 seconds.