Epilepsy Treatment: Finding the Right Medication
Newer Epilepsy Drugs: Higher Price, Fewer Side Effects continued...
The other new-generation epilepsy drugs are narrow-spectrum, meaning they
are only effective against seizures originating in a single part of the brain
- Neurontin (gabapentin) has no known serious side effects, although people
who have kidney disease should take a lower dose. Sedation, fatigue, dizziness,
and clumsiness are common side effects, which can be bothersome at high doses.
Neurontin can make generalized seizures worse, if present.
- Trileptal (oxcarbazepine) is related to the older carbamazepine.
It also has the potential to aggravate generalized seizures. Side effects
include fatigue, dizziness, double vision, nausea, vomiting, and headache. Like
carbamazepine, it can make birth
control pills less effective.
- Gabitril (tiagabine) helps control partial seizures, although in rare cases
it can trigger a form of uncontrolled seizures (status epilepticus). Common
side effects are fatigue, dizziness, sleepiness, clumsiness, and
- Lyrica (pregabalin) is better known as a treatment for fibromyalgia, but it
also treats partial seizures. Side effects commonly are fatigue, dizziness,
clumsiness, double vision, weight gain, and fluid retention.
- Vimpat (lacosamide) helps control
partial onset seizures in combination with other antiseizure medications.
DIzziness and nausea are the most common side effects.
Older-Generation Epilepsy Drugs
The older epilepsy drugs include Dilantin, Depakote, Tegretol, and phenobarbital.
Dilantin or Phenytek (phenytoin) is a narrow-spectrum epilepsy drug, widely
used for partial seizures. Dilantin has complex chemical properties in the
body, and small changes in dose can lead to wide swings in blood levels. Side
effects include fatigue, dizziness, clumsiness, nausea, and vomiting. Long-term
use can lead to thin bones (osteoporosis), facial hair, and excessive growth of
the gums. Dilantin increases the liver's metabolism of certain drugs, which can
cause a number of drug interactions. Birth
defects are also a concern if it's taken during pregnancy.
Depakote or Depakene (valproate, valproic
acid) is a broad-spectrum, older generation epilepsy drug effective against
most seizure types. Side effects can include nausea and vomiting, tremor,
dizziness, clumsiness, weight gain, and slowed thinking. Depakote also can cause
osteoporosis and birth defects. It affects liver metabolism and has many
potential drug interactions.