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Absence Seizures - Beyond Daydreams and Inattentiveness

Have you noticed your child between the ages of 4 and 14 have sudden "daydreams?" Has his or her teacher mentioned that they seem to stare blankly in class or become inattentive? Or have you watched your child have short moments where they were blinking?

According to Epilepsy.com, "Absence seizures are brief episodes of staring. During the seizure, awareness and responsiveness are impaired. Simple absence seizures (pronouced: ab-SAWNTZ) are just stares. Absence seizures are considered complex absence seizures, which means that they include a change in mental status. The most common movements are eye blinks. Other movements include slight tasting movements of the mouth, hand movements such as rubbing the fingers together, and contraction or relaxation of the muscles. Complex absence seizures are often more than 10 seconds long."

A doctor will perform a complete physical and neurological exam to determine muscle strength, reflexes, eyesight, hearing, and ability to detect various sensations. In addition to a clinical exam, further tests to determine the presence of a seizure is an electroencephalogram (EEG). This is a test that measures electrical activity of the brain.

Early detection and proper diagnosis/treatment are vital in helping the child maintain their quality of education and life skills, says Carmen J. Placido Jr. R. EEG/EP T., Coordinator, Neurodiagnostic Services of The Chester County Hospital. "They can be seen rarely, to multiple times in one day. We provide the diagnostic testing for the evaluation of absence seizures. EEG (Electroencephalography) is the only diagnostic tool to detect seizure activity."


  • Patients may not be aware that they are having a seizure, except that may be aware of "losing time."
  • Can occur several times a day.
  • Patients are otherwise normal with no physical or neurological defects.
  • Typically interrupts an activity and stares blankly.
  • Lip smacking or blinking can occur.
  • Absence Seizures tend to disappear around age 15 to 18.

Certain antiepileptic drugs may be prescribed.

Neurodiagnostic LabWhy Go To The Chester County Hospital?
"The Chester County Hospital's Neurodiagnostic Lab is the only nationally accredited EEG lab in the county, currently one of five in the state of Pennsylvania. We have demonstrated proven clinical excellence and commitment to service for our patients," says Placido.

Location and Contact Information
The Chester County Hospital
701 East Marshall Street, 2nd Floor
West Chester, PA 19380

Hours: Flexible scheduling - Monday-Friday, 8 am to 4:30 pm
To schedule an appointment: 610.738.2771 (Physician Referrals Required.)
Questions regarding tests: 610.738.2789

Last Updated: 7/7/2010