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Epilepsy Treatments: Find the Right Medication

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Choosing the Right Epilepsy Medication continued...

Other health issues and risks. You may have other medical conditions that dictate which epilepsy medications you can or cannot safely take. For example, liver and kidney disease may alter the levels of epilepsy medication in your bloodstream. Your doctor may also consider your risk of osteoporosis before prescribing an epilepsy drug. Some epilepsy drugs can cause bone loss and lead to osteoporosis. A vitamin D supplement may be needed. Menopause and other hormone changes can also affect the choice of epilepsy medication.

Pregnancy. Some epilepsy medicines can harm an unborn baby. For example, valproate is not recommended for women in their child-bearing years. The medicine is known to interfere with the growth and development of a baby in the womb and has been linked to birth defects. Other drugs may also have some risk of birth defects. Having seizures while pregnant also poses serious risks including miscarriage, trauma related to falling, and lack of oxygen to the fetus. Pregnancy itself can affect how your body breaks down an epilepsy drug. And that can put you at risk for breakthrough seizures or side effects. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. You may need to change your medication or adjust your dose. Never stop taking your medication without first talking to a doctor.

Other medicines you take. Some drugs can affect how an epilepsy medication works in your body and vice versa. Birth control pills, for instance, may not work as well if you take certain epilepsy medications. This is more likely with older seizure drugs such as phenytoin (Dilantin), carbamazepine (Tegretol), phenobarbital, and primidone (Mysoline). Some newer epilepsy medications, though, including topiramate (Topamax), may also reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills. Always let your doctor know about all the medicines you take. That includes drugs, herbs, and supplements that you buy without a prescription.

What's most convenient for you. Most epilepsy medications are taken by mouth. Depending on the type of drug, you may have to take it several times a day. Talk to your doctor about when you will need to take the medication, and how this affects your lifestyle. In rare cases, epilepsy medicine may be given by injection. This is most often done when seizures need to be immediately controlled.

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