What is a silent seizure?

Fact Checked

It is important to note that epilepsy is a health condition that results to periodic occurrence of seizures that are episodes of erratic brain activity. There are various types of seizures and one type is a silent seizure. This type of seizure is also called as petit mal seizures or absence seizures which do not involves the characteristic muscle jerking and spasms that many individuals link with seizures. With this type of seizure, the individual appears to simply tune out for a short period.

Identifying a silent seizure disorder

Silent seizures typically last for 15 seconds or less with the overall functioning of the brain being disrupted by erratic electrical activity. These seizures are quite common among young individuals and typically affect children between 6-12 years old.

What are the symptoms?

When it comes to silent seizures, they usually involve cessation of movement, but can be accompanied by lip smacking and some hand trembling in case of longer seizures. Another usual symptom is loss of consciousness which often causes the individual to stare off into space. The individual is usually unaware of his/her surroundings. Even though many individuals can fully recover from this type of seizure, they have no memory of the seizure.

What are the possible causes?

Silent seizures are caused by abnormal electrical activity within the brain. The neurons usually involve electrical and chemical signals that communicate with one another. On the other hand, when it comes to seizures, these electrical signals become altered and start to repeat themselves in a 3-second pattern.

The exact cause for this is still unknown but there appears to be a genetic link. Silent seizures are quite common among children since the brain of a child has more synapses, thus making it easier for abnormal activity to occur.


Silent seizure
Another usual symptom is loss of consciousness which often causes the individual to stare off into space.

There are 3 major tests that are utilized in diagnosing silent seizures. The first is a blood test to ensure that there is no chemical imbalance that causes the seizure. The second test is an EEG which is comprised of a series of electrodes placed on the scalp which monitors the electrical activity in the brain. The silent seizures can lead to an altered pattern of electrical activity. Lastly, an MRI can be carried out to ensure that the seizures are not due to a tumor or other health condition.


There are various medications that can be used to manage epilepsy. Always bear in mind that these drugs can reduce or eliminate the incidence with which silent seizures manifest. The mode of treatment that is effective for an individual is usually based on trial and error in order to determine the suitable combination of medications as well as the most effective dosage. The commonly used medications to treat silent seizures include valproic acid, ethosuximide and lamotrigine.

Was this post helpful?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top

  • All stmarkjamestraining.ca content is reviewed by a medical professional and / sourced to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

  • We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable websites, academic research institutions and medical articles.

  • If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please contact us through our contact us page.

The information posted on this page is for educational purposes only.
If you need medical advice or help with a diagnosis contact a medical professional