Epilepsy - Medications
See information on:
Epilepsy: Taking Your Medicines Properly.
Many of the first-line medicines control the same types
of seizures equally well. Most antiepileptic medicines can cause nausea,
dizziness, and sleepiness when you first start taking them. But these effects
usually go away after your body adjusts to the medicine. Liver and blood
problems are common to many of them. You may need to have regular blood tests
to watch for these side effects as long as you are taking the
Aside from these common problems, though, the medicines
have different side effects, health risks, and costs. A medicine that works for
someone else may not work for you.
When the more commonly used
medicines fail to control seizures or cannot be used for some other reason, you
may still have other medicine options.
- Many new medicines are being
developed and tested in clinical trials but are not in regular use yet. One of
these might be an option. People with epilepsy who have not responded to
standard therapy sometimes choose to take part in these trials. To learn more
about clinical trials, talk to your doctor or visit the National Institutes of
Health clinical trials website at www.clinicaltrials.gov.
are also a few medicines that are only used for certain rare or severe forms of
epilepsy in children. Children with
infantile spasms, for instance, may respond to a
corticosteroid, vigabatrin, or adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH).
What to think about
All antiepileptic medicines have
some unpleasant side effects. Ideally, medicine works to prevent seizures
without causing intolerable side effects.
When choosing between
medicines that treat the same type of seizure, you and your doctor will
think about things such as:
- How well the medicine works. How well a medicine works usually influences your willingness to take
- Possible side effects of each medicine.
health risks of each medicine.
- How often each medicine has to be
- Your age. Side effects may not affect children and adults in
the same way. Medicines that can affect memory and thought processes may have a
more severe impact on older adults.
- Your medical history and other
health concerns that might affect the use of a medicine. For instance, many
antiepileptic medicines can cause rare liver and blood problems and may be very
risky if you already have liver disease or a blood disorder.
doctor's own experience in treating people with each medicine.
cost of each medicine.
Building a medicine routine that works can be
hard. Finding the correct dosage of a medicine may take months. Some
people may have skin rashes, nausea, loss of coordination, and other short-term
problems when they first start taking medicine for epilepsy. When the first
medicine you try does not prevent seizures or you cannot tolerate its side
effects, the doctor may have to start the process all over again with a
different medicine. The chances of
medicine therapy failure increase as the number of
medicines tried increases.