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Epilepsy and Seizures

TreatmentMedication And Side Effects, Other Treatments

Medication is the most common treatment used to prevent and control seizures. There are many types of drugs available. They may be called different names: antiepileptic, anticonvulsant, or antiseizure drugs. We do not know how these drugs work in the brain, but they do work for most people. Currently about 80 to 85 percent of people with epilepsy can gain control of their seizures with the proper medication. These drugs do not cure epilepsy, but they can prevent seizures from happening. It is important to learn as much about your medications as possible. Here are a few questions you should ask your doctor:

  • What is the name of this medication, and is it known by any other names?
  • How should the medication be stored? Does it need to be kept cool or at room temperature?
  • How much medication do I take, and how many times a day do I need to take it?
  • Should I take the medication with food or on an empty stomach?
  • What should I do if I miss a dose?
  • Are there any foods or other medications that I should avoid while taking this medication?
  • What are some of the common side effects that I should expect? Do I need to seek emergency medical treatment if I have any of them?

Sometimes people have to take more than one type of antiseizure drug in order to control their seizures. Other medications, including acne medications, antibiotics, and even some over-the-counter drugs, may interfere with the effectiveness of antiseizure drugs. Be sure to tell your doctor if you are taking any other drugs.

It can be difficult to find the right medication and the correct dose because everyone's body reacts somewhat differently to medication. A certain amount of the antiseizure drug has to stay in your body for it to control your seizures. Your doctor measures this amount by taking samples of your blood.

Tony, age seventeen, explains, “I was on one medication for four months. The side effects got so bad that I had to be gradually taken off that one and started on another. I was seizure-free for one month, but the doctor had to increase the dose, and I developed an allergy to that medication. I had to start a third one. It was so frustrating. I thought the doctor would never get my medication right!”

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaEpilepsy