Petit Mal Epilepsy

What is Petit Mal Epilepsy?

Petit mal epilepsy, also known as typical absence seizures, accounts for about 10 to 15 percent of all cases of epilepsy. This type of seizure is characterized by short episodes of altered consciousness during which a person has brief lapses in attention. The affected person generally does not suffer from convulsions or undergo a loss of motor control, though they may make brief, repetitive movements such as lip smacking or blinking. These seizures usually last less than 10 seconds, after which the individual recovers without experiencing any confusion or memory loss.


The main symptom of petit mal epilepsy is the brief absence of awareness and attention. During these short episodes, a person may not respond to questions or external stimuli. Often these seizures can go unnoticed, as the person experiencing the seizure may not appear to be having any issues. However, there are some tell-tale signs that a seizure is occurring, such as staring spells during which a person's eyes are blank and unfocused, or sudden lip-smacking or chewing movements of the face and lips. Other signs may include rapid blinking, twitching of the arms or legs, and head movements.


The exact underlying cause of petit mal epilepsy is unknown, however, it is believed to be caused by a malfunction in the brain's electrical activity. This may be caused by an imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain, or due to a genetic predisposition. In some cases, it may also be triggered by certain environmental conditions such as emotional stress or fatigue.


In most cases, petit mal epilepsy is successfully treated with anticonvulsant medications, which help to reduce the frequency of seizures. Additionally, lifestyle modifications may be recommended to help manage symptoms, such as getting enough sleep and avoiding emotional stress. In some cases, other forms of medical therapy may be recommended as well, such as surgery or special diets. Additionally, counseling may be recommended in order to help individuals and their families cope with the condition.

Coping Tips

  • Talk to other people who have the same condition, and get advice on how to cope and manage symptoms.
  • Follow the treatment plan prescribed by your doctor, and keep a log of your seizures. This will help your doctor manage your condition more effectively.
  • Make lifestyle adjustments to reduce the risk of seizures, such as getting enough rest and avoiding stress.
  • Be aware of potential triggers, and avoid them if possible.
  • Seek support from family and friends.
  • Seek out counseling or therapy if needed.