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Difference between Absence Seizure and Focal Seizure
An absence seizure, often called a petit mal seizure, might manifest as blank gazing for a few seconds or fast blinking (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020). When aberrant electric activity develops in both the left and right hemispheres of the brain at the same time, it is considered to be a generalized seizure (grand mal seizure).
In the midst of an absence seizure, a person may appear to be daydreaming because of their abrupt onset of staring spells, during which they may cease all movement and stare in a single direction. After around 15 seconds (some sources suggest 30 seconds or less), the episode ends on its own, and normal alertness is immediately restored. After a seizure, the person often has no recollection of what happened and may carry on as if nothing unusual had happened (Johns Hopkins Medicine, 2021).
What is Absence Seizure?
Petit mal seizures (also known as absence seizures) manifest visually as looking blankly for a few seconds or rapid blinking (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020). When aberrant electric activity develops in both the left and right hemispheres of the brain at the same time, it is considered to be a generalized seizure (grand mal seizure).
The symptoms of absence seizure include the following (Harvard Health Publishing, 2018) −
Staring for a few brief seconds
Does not respond to people speaking
Twitching or jerking of an arm or a leg
Having no memory of the episode
Usually no confusion during the recovery period
What is Focal Seizure?
A focal seizure (also called a focal onset seizure or a partial seizure) is a type of seizure in which electrical activity in only a localised region of the brain is disrupted. The duration of this seizure is greater than that of an absence seizure, and it may persist for several minutes. When a focal seizure turns into a generalised seizure, this can happen (i.e., secondary generalised seizures). According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020), focal seizures can be divided into the following categories −
Simple Focal Seizures
Twitching and/or experiencing a weird taste, smell, or other unusual sensations are symptoms of these focal seizures, which impact a limited region of the brain. Symptoms include a sudden shift in mood for no apparent cause, jerking of a limb (often the leg or arm), trouble speaking, a sense of déjà vu, goosebumps, seeing flashing lights, and perception shifts in smell, taste, sound, and touch (Wells, 2017)
Complex Focal Seizures
A person having one of these fits may feel dizzy and confused, and for a few minutes thereafter, he may be unable to respond to queries or follow commands. Confusion following a seizure, gazing, repeating phrases or words, acting out unusual behaviours like riding a bike, hallucinations, attempts at self-harm, tics involving the mouth, such as smacking the lips or moving the mouth, and repeated speech are all symptoms (Wells, 2017).
Secondary Generalized Seizures
A person with this kind of epilepsy will have a focused seizure followed by a more widespread one. Although it manifests first on one side of the brain, it progresses to affect the other. To begin with, the individual may experience a shift in feeling or movement associated with the onset of the seizure, but they will still be conscious of what is going on.
Complex focal seizures that cause the person to become disoriented or forgetful may be the first sign. Since the vocal cords are being compressed due to the increased pressure of the air, the individual may moan or cry as the tonic phase begins (probably does not reflect pain since the person is unaware at this phase). Consciousness is lost, respiration slows or stops for a while, jerking motions occur, and bladder and bowel control may be lost. Seizures typically last between 1 and 3 minutes (anything longer is considered a medical emergency); when the seizure ends, the individual may feel tired, disoriented, irritated, or sad for several hours or even days (Kiriakopoulos, 2017).
Differences: Absence Seizure and Focal Seizure
The following table highlights the major differences between Absence Seizure and Focal Seizure −
The absence seizure symptom may manifest as looking blankly for a few seconds or fast blinking (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020). When aberrant electric activity develops in both the left and right hemispheres of the brain at the same time, it is considered to be a generalised seizure (grand mal seizure).
Disruption of brain electrical activity causes focal seizure, sometimes called focal onset seizure or partial seizure. They come in three forms: simple focal seizures, complex focal seizures (complex partial seizures), and secondary generalised seizures (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020).
A petit mal seizure is another name for an absence seizure.
A focal seizure is a type of partial seizure that can also be called a focused onset seizure.
When an absence seizure ends on its own, the individual recovers to their regular level of consciousness within 15 seconds (other sources indicate 30 seconds).
A focused seizure can last many minutes, while an absence seizure often only lasts a few seconds.
Fundamental Attribution Error
According to Harvard Health Publishing (2018), people who have experienced an absence seizure may exhibit the following symptoms: blank staring for several seconds, inability to respond to spoken language, rapid blinking, twitching or jerking of an arm or leg, lack of recollection of the event, and typically unconfusion during the recovery phase.
The signs and symptoms of a focal seizure may vary from one kind to another. Symptoms of a simple focal seizure include an unexpected shift in mood, the involuntary jerking of a limb (often the leg or arm), trouble speaking, a sense of déjà vu, goosebumps, seeing flashing lights, and alterations in the perception of smell, taste, sight, and sound.
The tonic phase of secondarily generalized seizures typically begins with muscular rigidity, as air is being squeezed past the vocal cords, resulting in a moan or cry.
Consciousness is lost, respiration slows or stops for a while, jerking motions occur, and bladder and bowel control may be lost (Kiriakopoulos, 2017).
In an absence seizure, a person may appear to be daydreaming because of their abrupt onset of staring spells, during which they may cease all movement and stare in a single direction.
Complex focal seizures are characterized by a wide range of symptoms, including staring blankly, repeating words or phrases, performing actions such as riding a bike, hallucinating, trying to hurt themselves, making repetitive movements of the mouth or smacking lips, and experiencing confusion after the seizure has ended (Wells, 2017).
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