How are absence seizures treated?

Updated: Sep 25, 2018
  • Author: Scott Segan, MD; Chief Editor: Selim R Benbadis, MD  more...
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Treatment for absence seizures involves antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). Once the proper diagnosis (ie, of the specific epilepsy syndrome) is made, the likelihood of other, coexistent seizure types in the patient, such as myoclonic or tonic-clonic seizures, should be considered and an appropriate medication selected. Since altered awareness occurs with even brief bursts of spike-wave paroxysms on EEG, treatment should be titrated to suppressing all epileptiform activity.

The decision to start antiepileptic medication must be made with great care. Most AEDs are relatively toxic and can have sedative and cognitive side effects. Children with absence seizures may need to be on medication for many years, and in some cases, for life. EEG can usually confirm the diagnosis, and the presence of spontaneous seizures can be documented on routine EEG or with longer recordings (ie, 24-hour ambulatory EEG or EEG video monitoring).

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