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Epilepsy Health Center

Working With Your Doctor for the Best Epilepsy Treatment

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There are also some newer drugs used to treat epilepsy. Some of them are:

  • Eslicarbazepine acetate (Aptiom)
  • Felbamate (Felbatol)
  • Gabapentin (Neurontin)
  • Lacosamide (Vimpat)
  • Lamotrigine (Lamictal)
  • Oxcarbazepine (Oxtellar XR)
  • Perampanel (Fycompa)
  • Pregabalin (Lyrica)
  • Tiagabine (Gabitril)
  • Topiramate (Topamax)
  • Levetiracetam (Keppra)
  • Zonisamide (Zonegran)

For more information about each drug, see "Epilepsy: Medications to Treat Seizures." Each of these drugs is slightly different. Some work well for some kinds of epilepsy and not for others. Each one also has its own side effects, like all drugs do. Besides your type of epilepsy, here are some other factors that can influence which drug might be right for you. You should discuss these with your doctor:

  • Your age, gender, and other health issues
  • How the drugs work and possible side effects
  • Other drugs you are taking
  • What kind of side effects you can live with
  • What you hope that the medication will do for you; for example, you might want a medication that makes you more alert and better able to concentrate at work.

There are also specific questions that women with epilepsy should ask. For example:

  • Is it safe to get pregnant while taking this drug?
  • Could this drug interfere with my birth control?
  • My seizures seem to be affected by my menstrual cycle. Will this drug help manage that?
  • Could this drug increase my risk for osteoporosis?

One thing to keep in mind: Osteoporosis is a weakening of the bone structure that can occur as you get older. Some anti-seizure drugs for epilepsy can increase the risk of developing osteoporosis if you take them for a long time. Because osteoporosis affects women far more than men, it is particularly important that you discuss this with your doctor when you plan your epilepsy treatment. You can then work together on ways to help protect your bone health. This would include eating a diet high in calcium, taking calcium and vitamin D supplements, getting lots of exercise, and avoiding alcohol and cigarettes.

Since all people are different, what works for one person with the same kind of seizures you have may not work for you. You may find the right medicine right away, or you and your doctor may have to try two or more to find the one that is effective for you. When you first start taking a new drug, it's a good idea to keep track of any side effects you experience and tell your doctor about them. You may not be sure whether a symptom you experience -- like depression or weight gain -- is caused by the medication. If you're not sure, it's safest to tell your doctor about it, anyway. Then you can both discuss the severity of the side effects and what to do about them.

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