Thursday, March 29, 2012

Petit Mal Seizures: A Little Insight

With Lily's diagnosis, there came many questions.
What are Petit Mal seizures?
How long do they last?
Will they ever go away?
Why do they happen?
And so on.
I needed answers.

I referenced the Mayo Clinic website to get those answers.

All of the following information was taken from that website.
It gave me a clearer understanding of what Lily is dealing with.
I hope it answers some of your questions as well.


"Absence seizure — also known as petit mal — involves a brief, sudden lapse of consciousness. Absence seizures are more common in children than adults. Someone having an absence seizure may look like he or she is staring into space for a few seconds.

Compared with other types of epileptic seizures, absence seizures appear mild. But they can be dangerous. Children with a history of absence seizure must be supervised carefully while swimming or bathing because of the danger of drowning. Teens and adults may be restricted from driving and other potentially hazardous activities.

Absence seizures usually can be controlled with anti-seizure medications. Some children who have absence seizures also have grand mal seizures. Many children outgrow absence seizures in their teen years."

"Signs of absence seizures include:

Vacant stare
Absence of motion without falling
Lip smacking
Eyelid flutters
Chewing motions
Hand movements
Small movements of both arms

Absence seizures last only a few seconds. Full recovery is almost instantaneous. Afterward, there's no confusion, but also no memory of the incident. Some people experience dozens of these episodes each day, which interferes with their performance at school or work."


"Often, no underlying cause can be found for absence seizures. Many children appear to have a genetic predisposition to them. Sometimes hyperventilation can trigger an absence seizure.

In general, seizures are caused by abnormal nerve cell (neuron) activity in the brain. The brain's nerve cells normally communicate with each other by sending electrical and chemical signals across the synapses that connect the cells. In people who have seizures, the brain's usual electrical activity is altered. During an absence seizure, these electrical signals repeat themselves over and over in a three-second pattern.

People who have seizures may also have altered levels of neurotransmitters, which are the chemical messengers that help the nerve cells communicate with one another.

This type of seizure may be more prevalent in children. Many children gradually outgrow absence seizures over months to years."

This last sentence is by far the best news thus far.
Because Lily was diagnosed with this seizure disorder at the age of 6, she will likely grow out of them by the time she is in her early teens.
There is certainly a long road ahead.
It kills me that my baby has to go through this.
But there is a light at the end of this relatively dark tunnel.

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