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New Onset Absence Seizures in Adults

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Feb 4, 2024.

What are new-onset absence seizures?

Absence seizures, or petit mal seizures, are a type of epilepsy. Both sides of the brain are affected. A seizure is an episode of abnormal brain activity. You are not aware that the seizure happened. Absence seizures can happen more than 100 times each day. Absence seizures usually do not cause serious health problems. Some people also develop another type of seizure called a tonic-clonic seizure. This is a seizure that causes convulsions. Absence seizures are most common in children and adolescents. They can also start in adulthood. This is called an adult new-onset seizure.

What are the signs and symptoms of an absence seizure?

How are absence seizures diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your health conditions and what medicines you take. Tell the provider when the seizures began. If possible, bring someone with you who saw you have a seizure. The person can tell healthcare providers what happened during your seizure, how long it lasted, and how you acted after. Tell your healthcare provider about any family history of seizures and any recent illness or trauma. You may also need any of the following:

How are absence seizures treated?

Medicines will help control the seizures. You may need medicine daily to prevent seizures. Do not stop taking the medicine unless directed by a healthcare provider.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

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What can I do to help manage or prevent absence seizures?

What do I need to know about stopping my medicine?

Your healthcare provider can help you understand and make decisions about continuing or stopping antiseizure medicines. Do not stop taking the medicine until your provider says it is okay. You may need to be seizure free for 18 to 24 months before you can stop your medicine. Seizures might happen again while you stop taking the medicine, or after you stop. Rarely, these seizures no longer respond to medicines. Tests such as an EEG may be useful in helping you and your provider make medicine decisions.

When should I call my doctor?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.