Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Epilepsy Treatments: Keeping Seizures Under Control

Font Size
A
A
A

Switching Epilepsy Medications

Fifty percent of all patients with newly diagnosed epilepsy will become seizure-free with the first epilepsy drug they try. For the rest, it's try, try again: switching epilepsy medications, adjusting to side effects, and waiting to make sure the new drug works. Others find their seizures are controlled, but they can't tolerate the medication's side effects and need to switch drugs.

Before you ask your doctor if your medication should be switched, make sure you are taking your current medication exactly as prescribed. Missing doses, splitting pills, or not following instructions to the letter could affect your control and the side effects you experience. If you are already complying with your doctor’s instructions, but still are having breakthrough seizures, talk to your neurologist or epileptologist (specialists who are experts in treating epilepsy). Your doctor will evaluate whether you should switch medications.

Recommended Related to Epilepsy

Understanding Absence Seizure -- the Basics

Affecting about two of every 1,000 people, absence seizures (formerly called ''petit mal'' seizures) are caused by abnormal and intense electrical activity in the brain. Normally, the brain's nerve cells (neurons) communicate with one another by firing tiny electric signals. But with a seizure, these signals become abnormal. Seizures may affect an isolated part of the brain or may involve abnormal activity in the whole brain (called generalized seizures). Absence seizures are one form of generalized...

Read the Understanding Absence Seizure -- the Basics article > >

Eventually, up to 70% of people with epilepsy become seizure-free with minimal side effects while taking epilepsy drugs. But switching epilepsy medications takes time and patience. Finding the right epilepsy drug for you can require equal parts art and science -- and sometimes a bit of luck.

Switching Epilepsy Medications: A Small Leap of Faith

Even the best doctors don't know which epilepsy drug will work best in any given person.

When managing epilepsy, doctors take a snapshot of your epilepsy profile: your type of seizures, your age and gender, other medical conditions, medicines you're on or may be on later, your time of life, and epilepsy drugs you've tried in the past.

Based on that information, your doctor may narrow down the field to a few epilepsy drugs to try. But after that, it's an educated leap of faith, experts tell WebMD.

Switching Medications for Epilepsy: How It's Done

What does the process of switching epilepsy medications involve? The events will be different for each person. Experts agree, though, that success depends on a good partnership between you and your doctor. Switching medications may include these steps:

1. Choose a new drug. Your doctor will work closely with you to decide on the next best epilepsy drug worth trying. That includes a detailed discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of the medicine and its likely side effects, as well as rare but potentially serious effects. If you're a young woman, now is the time to discuss any plans for pregnancy. Some medications interact with birth control pills. And women of childbearing age who take seizure medications should also take daily folate supplements. The more you're involved in the process of choosing your epilepsy drug, the better the chances for long-term success.

Next Article:

How many epilepsy seizures do you have per year?