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Medication and lifestyle measures are needed to prevent them

Absence seizures are treated with prescription antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) that are taken every day to prevent seizures from occurring. Depakote (valproic acid), Lamictal (lamotrigine), and Zarontin (ethosuximide) are the AEDs most commonly prescribed for absence seizures.

If you or your child has absence seizures and other types of seizures, additional AEDs are also usually necessary for treating other seizure types. Lifestyle strategies, such as getting enough rest and not skipping meals, are important because these factors can trigger seizure episodes.

This article will describe the medical treatments used for absence seizures, as well as the lifestyle measures that are recommended.

Home Remedies and Lifestyle

Some lifestyle factors can worsen all types of seizures, including absence seizures (characterized by a brief and sudden loss of consciousness). Managing these factors will not resolve or cure your absence seizures, but it is important to adhere to lifestyle approaches to avoid making them worse.

Recommended lifestyle habits include:

  • Get enough sleep and rest.
  • Avoid alcohol and smoking.
  • Avoid hyperventilating.
  • Control blood sugar by not skipping meals and ensure diabetes (if present) is well controlled.

Health effects like low blood oxygen levels and blood chemistry imbalances, which result from serious medical problems, can trigger absence seizures. So, staying healthy by avoiding infections and getting treatment for illnesses may help prevent worsening bouts of absence seizures.

Some research also suggests that getting regular exercise may help optimize seizure management.

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Therapies 

There are no OTC treatments for absence seizure therapy. In fact, some OTC medications may trigger seizures, interfere with AEDs, or make them less effective.

For this reason, if you are being treated for seizures or epilepsy (a neurological condition characterized by seizures), it is important to check with your healthcare provider or pharmacist before using any OTC medications.

Prescriptions 

The treatment for absence seizures includes certain prescription AEDs. They are taken every day to prevent seizures and are not taken while a seizure is happening or to stop a seizure.

Different AEDs are used depending on the seizure type. Absence seizures are considered generalized seizures, which means that they affect the whole brain and thus affect a person’s level of awareness.

The most common AEDs that are prescribed for absence seizures are Depakote (valproic acid), Lamictal (lamotrigine), and Zarontin (ethosuximide). Dosing for children is often based on weight, and sometimes a child’s age is a factor in dosing.

Absence seizures are partially preventable, and most children and adolescents have an improvement in their seizure frequency with medication. But for most people, the seizures are not fully prevented with medication.

In one study, for example, 49% of children who were being treated for absence seizures were considered to be seizure-free. The children who were being treated with ethosuximide or valproic acid were more likely to be seizure-free than those who were being treated with lamotrigine.

Absence seizures may worsen for some people who are taking valproic acid. In one study, children taking valproic acid for absence seizure treatment performed substantially worse on tests of attention than those taking lamotrigine or ethosuximide.

Side Effects

Most AEDs can have side effects, which can range from mild to severe. Each AED has its own list of potential side effects. Common AED side effects include sleepiness and dizziness.

Seizure Treatment

People who have other types of seizures in addition to absence seizures may need to take one or more AED in addition to the AED that’s being used to control the absence seizures.

Surgeries and Specialist-Driven Procedures 

Several types of epilepsy surgery procedures can help reduce refractory epilepsy, or intractable epilepsy, which is epilepsy that doesn’t adequately improve with AEDs.

While these procedures aren’t typically part of absence seizure treatment, a person with absence seizures and another type of treatment-resistant seizure could potentially be a candidate for epilepsy surgery. The surgery might or might not affect the absence seizures.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

You may see CAM measures promoted for treating and preventing all types of seizures, including absence seizures. However, no CAM therapies are proven to help absence seizures, and some may worsen them or cause serious adverse effects.

A ketogenic diet (a very restrictive low-carbohydrate diet) is sometimes recommended for treating epilepsy that does not improve with medication. If your child has epilepsy syndrome with treatment-resistant seizures, this diet might be recommended.

Summary 

Absence seizures are treated with certain prescription antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). The AEDs most commonly used for treating absence seizures are valproic acid, ethosuximide, and lamotrigine. The treatment usually reduces the seizure frequency but doesn’t always completely stop them from happening.

Lifestyle measures to avoid triggering seizures include getting enough sleep, avoiding alcohol consumption, and avoiding illness. These triggers can make seizures occur more frequently.

Typically, absence seizures occur during childhood and adolescence, and they usually stop happening during adulthood, at which point the treatment can be safely discontinued.

A Word From Verywell

Staring into space and daydreaming is common among children and occasionally continues throughout life. Absence seizures are different from daydreaming, and they need to be treated with prescription medication.

Often, the medication can reduce the frequency of absence seizures. If you or your child is taking medication for absence seizures, follow up with your healthcare provider and let them know about seizure frequency, any changes in the seizures, and any medication side effects.

 

Source: verywellhealth.com,  Heidi Moawad, MD

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