What Are the Causes of Petit Mal Seizures?

Petit mal seizures, or absence seizures, are caused when nerve cells in the brain act abnormally. These nerve cells may fail to communicate properly for any number of reasons. In many cases it is difficult to determine why a person has had a petit mal seizure, which causes him to collapse and shake uncontrollably for a short time.

Alcohol and Drugs

Alcohol, drugs or a combination of the two can create a chemical imbalance within the brain. Mixing certain medications can result in seizures, according to WrongDiagnosis.com. Alcohol or alcohol withdrawal can cause petit mal seizures within 48 hours.


When poisons such as pesticides are ingested, seizures are known to occur. These symptoms will usually be accompanied by nausea, muscle weakness, uncontrollable bowels or impaired vision.


Athletes with pre-existing conditions such as epilepsy are more likely to experience seizures while active. Hyperventilation and heat exhaustion increase the risk of petit mal seizures.


Seizures are a symptom of epilepsy that is caused by an unbalanced level of neurotransmitters, which chemically transmit messages within the brain. Epileptic seizures are more common in the growing mind of a child than in adults.

Other Illness

People with diabetes, a history of stroke, tumors, Alzheimer’s disease or other illnesses are at a higher risk. Head or spinal cord injuries should be monitored and considered in the event of a petit mal seizure.

Petit mal seizures