If you have epilepsy and haven't had a seizure in a long time, you may wonder if you can stop taking your epilepsy drugs. Your doctor may tell you that you can stop your medication if you haven't had a seizure in two years. Other doctors advise their patients to wait until four or five years have passed without a seizure before stopping their epilepsy treatment.
Some people can stop taking their epilepsy medication, but it depends on their age and the type of epilepsy. More than half of children who stop having seizures while on medication can eventually stop taking the medication without suffering new seizures. In a study of adult epilepsy patients, 68% of those who had not had a seizure in two years could stop taking their medication without having another seizure; 75% could discontinue if they had gone three years without a seizure.
A seizure occurs when there’s abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Seizures may go virtually unnoticed. Or, in severe cases, they may produce a change or loss of consciousness and involuntary muscle spasms called convulsions. Seizures usually come on suddenly and vary in duration and severity. A seizure may be a one-time event, or you may have seizures repeatedly. Recurrent seizures are called epilepsy, or a seizure disorder. Less than one in 10 people who has a seizure develops epilepsy.
It's very important to keep taking your medication as long as the doctor prescribes it. If you stop taking it suddenly, you have a greater chance of having new seizures. These seizures can be extremely dangerous and may make it more difficult to treat future occurrences.