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Can Absence Seizures Last For Hours?

Absence seizures fall into two categories – convulsive status and non-convulsive status. In the convulsive state, the patient suffers from prolonged tonic-clonic seizures that require immediate medical assistance. Coming to the non-convulsive situation, it is an episode where the patient undergoes atypical absence seizure that can remain for a moment, hours or days. Although the seizure attack is not life-threatening, recognizing it in early stages and opting for appropriate treatment will be of immense help.

Can Absence Seizures Last For Hours?

Can Absence Seizures Last For Hours?

Absence seizures fall under the category of generalized seizures and are potentially risky, as they last for hours or even days. An important factor that we can mention here is that the cardinal system is in the state of consciousness, which makes the patient fully aware of the situation but makes him or her partially responsive. Detection of the condition is only possible by carrying out EEG along with a careful observation of medical history.

The occurrence of absence seizures usually occurs in typical or atypical generalized format. The absence seizure state occurrence in the typical format occurs commonly among patients that show symptoms of idiopathic generalized epilepsy. The absence seizure attack in the atypical format usually occurs among patients that show signs of neurocognitive impairment. It is also possible for the disease to occur in adults who do not have any previous history of epilepsy.

There is also a chance for a neurologist to misdiagnose the absence seizure as a focal seizure or a confusional non-elliptic condition. Usually, the occurrence of absence seizures is due to improper treatment and medicines such as tiagabine and carbamazepine for patients were already suffering from idiopathic generalized epilepsy.

What Causes Absence Seizures?

Scientists are still clueless about the reason behind the occurrence of absence seizures. Nonetheless, a few point out that genetics play a functional role in causing the illness. The misfiring of the brain cells is so intense that the individual suffers from the seizure from a few hours to several days.

In normal condition, the nerve cells or neurons in the brain communicate with each other using electrical signals. During the attack of epilepsy or absence seizure, there is a misfiring that causes the signals to become abnormal. The misfiring produced in the brain affects the isolated part or may involve other nerve cells in the whole brain. There is no specific mention about the occurrence of absence seizure. It can occur at any time of the day without warning and suddenly. However, the critical aspect of the occurrence is the shift in the consciousness that is very subtle. Due to this, it makes it difficult for the other person to detect the symptoms of the person who is likely to undergo the absence seizure attack.

As with other seizure attacks, the person may or may not recollect of the situation they have gone through after they regain consciousness. Both adults, as well as children, will be in the state of confusion after gaining awareness. The body feels weak after the prolonged seizure attack. Additional symptoms include a headache, joint pains, muscular pains, and a slow improvement in the loss of speech, voice, and deafness.

Keeping the Options Open

If an individual is suffering from absence seizures that last for days, then it is essential to make arrangements accordingly. Hospitalization is the best way to ensure that the person is under constant observation and receives the best treatment to come out of the absence seizure attack. Although such conditions are rare, preparing for the worst is always advantageous.


  1. Panayiotopoulos CP. Absence seizures in children. Epilepsia. 2004;45 Suppl 1:22-28. doi:10.1111/j.0013-9580.2004.451004.x
  2. Ristić AJ, Ristić D, Kovacević M, Fišeković S. Absence status epilepticus in adolescents and adults: a review with a special emphasis on treatment. Epilepsy Behav. 2014;41:29-37. doi:10.1016/j.yebeh.2014.09.009
  3. Kälviäinen R, Nousiainen I, Mervaala E. Clinical characteristics of absence seizures. Acta Neurol Scand Suppl. 2005;(181):43-46. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0404.2005.00474.x
  4. Guerrini R. Epilepsy in children. Lancet. 2006;367(9509):499-524. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(06)68182-8
  5. Crunelli V, Leresche N. Childhood absence epilepsy: genes, channels, neurons and networks. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2002;3(5):371-382. doi:10.1038/nrn811

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 28, 2023

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