Absence seizure first aid

Someone having an absence seizure is unconscious for a few seconds. They will stop doing whatever they were doing before it started, but will not fall.

They might blink, have slight jerking movements of their body or limbs. They don’t know what is happening around them and they can’t be brought out of it.

Absence seizures can be very hard to spot, and it might appear they are daydreaming or ‘switching off’.

Absences can happen repeatedly. Some people have hundreds of absence seizures a day. They may be more common when the person is falling asleep or waking up.

How to help


  • Gently guide the person away from any dangers (especially if they are having repeated absences)
  • Stay with them until recovery is complete
  • Be calmly reassuring
  • Explain anything they may have missed


  • Don’t restrain them
  • Don’t make any abrupt movements
  • Don’t try to bring them round
  • Don’t give them anything to eat or drink until they are fully recovered

As absence seizures are very short, people usually recover immediately and are able to carry on with what they were doing.

Please note:

Medical attention is only needed if the person has badly injured themselves.

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