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Epilepsy Drugs to Treat Seizures

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Neurontin (Gabapentin)

  • Used with other epilepsy drugs to treat partial and some generalized seizures
  • Few lasting side effects; during the first weeks of treatment you may experience tiredness and dizziness.

Dilantin (Phenytoin)

  • Controls partial seizures and generalized tonic-clonic seizures; also can be given by vein (intravenously) in the hospital to rapidly control active seizures, although if the drug is being delivered by IV, Cerebyx (fosphenytoin) is usually used.
  • Side effects include dizziness, fatigue, slurred speech, acne, rash, and increased hair (hirsutism). Over the long term, the drug can cause bone thinning.

Topamax (Toprimate)

  • Used with other drugs to treat partial or generalized tonic-clonic seizures
  • Side effects include sleepiness, dizziness, speech problems, nervousness, memory problems, visions problems, weight loss.

Trileptal (oxcarbazepine)

  • Treats partial seizures
  • Most common side effects are tiredness, dizziness, headache, blurred vision, or double vision.

Depakene, Depakote (valproate, valproic acid)

  • Used to treat partial, absence, and generalized tonic-clonic seizures
  • Common side effects include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, tremor, hair loss, weight gain, depression in adults, irritability in children, reduced attention, a decrease in thinking speed. Over the long term, the drug can cause bone thinning, swelling of the ankles, irregular menstrual periods. More rare and dangerous effects include hearing loss, liver damage, decreased platelets (clotting cells), and pancreas problems.

Zonegran (zonisamide)

  • Used with other drugs to treat partial seizures
  • Adverse effects include drowsiness, dizziness, unsteady gait, kidney stones, abdominal discomfort, headache, and rash.

Valium ( diazepam), Ativan (lorazepam) and similar tranquilizers such as Klonopin (clonazepam)

  • Effective in short-term treatment of all seizures; used often in the emergency room to stop a seizure, particularly status epilepticus
  • Tolerance develops in most within a few weeks, so the same dose has less effect over time.
  • Valium can also be given as rectal suppository.
  • Side effects include tiredness, unsteady walking, nausea, depression, and loss of appetite. In children, they can cause drooling and hyperactivity.

Fycompa (perampanel)

  • The drug is approved to treat partial onset seizures in those age 12 and older.
  • The label carries a warning of potential serious events including irritability, aggression, anger, anxiety, paranoia, euphoric mood, agitation, and changes in mental status.

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