Questions About Medicines for Epilepsy - Topic Overview
While working with your doctor to plan a medicine routine
for yourself or your child, it may help you to talk about some of the choices
and issues involved. Some of the following questions might help you
How often will I or my child have to take the medicine?
Some medicines for
epilepsy have to be taken several times a day. This is
sometimes hard for children in school; people with busy, irregular schedules;
and people who have a hard time remembering to take their drugs. People who
have fewer daily doses may be more likely to follow the treatment plan. Talk
to your doctor about what to do if you miss a dose.
More than 2 million people in the United States have some form of epilepsy, a group of related disorders marked by
recurrent seizures. WebMD asked epilepsy experts your most frequently asked
Some medicines can cause mood swings, memory loss, or
depression. But others may not affect your state of
Job-related issues might be important. For instance, if your
job requires close, steady work, you may want to avoid a medicine that causes
your hands to shake or affects muscle control.
What health risks come with using the medicine?
Allergic or toxic reactions in the skin, liver, and blood may sometimes
result from use of antiepileptic medicines. Your age or medical history may
make you more likely to have one of these adverse reactions. Long-term use of
antiepileptic medicines, while often needed, may cause other health
problems. Ask your doctor to discuss the short-term and long-term risks of the
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a
warning on antiepileptic medicines and the risk of suicide and suicidal
thoughts. The FDA does not recommend that people stop using these medicines. Instead, people who take antiepileptic medicine should
be watched closely for warning signs of suicide. People who take antiepileptic
medicine and who are worried about this side effect should talk to a doctor.
For more information, see
warning signs of suicide in adults and
warning signs of suicide in children and teens.
How will the medicine react with other medicines I take?
Many medicines for epilepsy can interact with other medicines you may be
taking. This means that your epilepsy medicine may not work as well, or it may
affect the way another medicine you are taking works. Some of these
interactions can be dangerous. It is important to tell your doctor about all
the medicines, herbal pills, or dietary supplements you are taking.
If you have several types of seizures, you may need to take more than one
medicine to control them. The doctor will work with you to choose medicines
that will neither work against each other nor make side effects worse. If you
take medicine for health problems other than epilepsy, the doctor should choose
an antiepileptic medicine that will not react badly with your other medicine.
This is a special concern for older people, who are more likely to be taking