What Is Ethosuximide Used For?
Absence seizures, also known as petit mal seizures, involve "blanking out." They are most common in children. A child may "stare into space" and may not respond to other people for 10 to 20 seconds. Once the seizure is over, the child will not be aware of these episodes and will continue as if nothing happened.
Complex absence seizures involve muscle movement (often eye blinking), while simple absence seizures do not involve muscle movements. Ethosuximide is approved to treat both complex and simple absence seizures.
During a seizure, brain cells (neurons) may fire as many as 500 times per second, much faster than the normal rate of about 80 times per second. It is not known exactly how ethosuximide works to prevent absence seizures in people with epilepsy. It may work by affecting certain calcium channels in the brain.
Ethosuximide is approved to treat absence seizures in children as young as three years old. It is not approved for younger children. Talk to your healthcare provider about the benefits and risks of using ethosuximide in children.
On occasion, your healthcare provider may recommend ethosuximide for something other than absence seizures in people with epilepsy. At this time, there are no universally accepted off-label ethosuximide uses.