Reflex anoxic seizures

Reflex Anoxic Seizures (RAS) are a particular type of fit which is neither epileptic nor due to cyanotic breath-holding, but in fact results from a brief stoppage of the heart through excessive activity of the vagus nerve.

These occur mainly in young children but can occur at any age. The attacks appear to happen in batches with several attacks over a period of days, weeks or months.

An unexpected stimulus, such as a particular pain, shock or fright, causes the heart and breathing to stop, the eyes to roll up into the head, the complexion to become suddenly pale, with blue around the mouth and under the eyes, the jaw to clench and the body to stiffen. Sometimes the arms and legs will jerk during the seizure.

After a short period, usually less than 30 seconds, the body relaxes, the heart starts beating (sometimes very slowly initially) and the sufferer falls unconscious. One or two minutes later the person may regain consciousness but can sometimes be unconscious for over an hour. Upon recovery the person may be very emotional and then fall into a deep sleep for two to three hours.

For more information, visit the STARS website.

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