6-year-old Master A was brought to the hospital with multiple brief periods of staring vacantly along with some eyelid blinking.
He had been having these episodes since the age of 4 years. He would not respond when the teacher called him and was thought to be inattentive in class. He was diagnosed to have childhood absence epilepsy and was treated. Why were these fits not recognized and treated?The most common impression of fits or seizures is that of a person becoming stiff or jerking, becoming unconscious, frothing from the mouth, passing urine. But some seizure types like absence seizures do not present this way. They are more subtle and hence not identified and treated. These children are often thought to be daydreaming and not concentrating or inattentive in class. How to identify an absence seizure?During an absence seizure the child appears to go blank, stops doing what he /she was doing and just stares into space. They may blink their eyelids briefly or open and close their lips but usually do not jerk or make many movements. These episodes start suddenly, and children get back to their activities as soon as the episode ends. They usually occur in children between the ages of 4 -12 years old and children usually have many such brief episodes in a day.
How to recognize an absence seizure from daydreaming Absence seizures happen at any time, even while doing activities like eating, playing, drinking, speaking etc. while daydreaming usually happens when the child is sitting idle. So, if a child suddenly has these episodes especially while doing his activities he must be taken to the doctor. How are absence seizures diagnosed?
Absence seizures can be diagnosed in an outpatient clinic by a procedure called hyperventilation and by taking an EEG with hyperventilation. How are absence seizures treated and are medications lifelong?
Absence seizures are treated with specific anti-seizure medications. Most children with childhood absence epilepsy respond well to medications. The seizures usually settle by mid – adolescence. Rarely, some children can have other seizure types and later seizures.