Medicines for epilepsy

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07:05 | Author: Molly Young

Epilepsy medicines
Medicines for epilepsy

Lamotrigine (Lamictal) Used for partial seizures and generalised seizures where previous treatment has been ineffective Possible side effects: Skin rash, drowsiness, double vision, dizziness and headache.

Possible side effects: Dizziness and drowsiness. Pregabalin (Lyrica) Used for partial seizures, with or without secondary generalisation.

Although it is not fully understood how they do this, they have been proven to be very effective. Anti-epileptic drugs (known as AEDs), prevent seizures by acting on the brain. Basics For Carers Exploring Treatments Advanced Resources Epilepsy News How long does it take for drugs to work? Side effects Interactions with other drugs Common epilepsy drugs used in Ireland While there is no cure for epilepsy, it can be controlled with a range of different medicines to allow people to get on with a full and active life.

Common epilepsy drugs used in Ireland.

Some medicines can interact with the epilepsy itself, which can make seizures more likely. Interactions with other drugs AEDs can affect each other as well as other medicines. Medicines of this nature include anti-depressants, anti-histamines and certain anti-malaria drugs. For example some AEDs interact with the contraceptive pill. This will be taken into account when drugs are prescribed. (See article on Contraception and epilepsy).

When changing from one drug to another, there is a risk that seizures may occur. Therefore, it is usual that a new drug is introduced prior to the existing one being stopped.

The most common ones include drowsiness or dizziness, particularly in the early days of taking a drug. In reality few people will experience side effects and in those who do, they are likely to be mild. Side effects Patient information leaflets, which are supplied with your prescription, set out the possible side effects associated with that particular drug. Any side effects should be reported to your health professional. If these effects are persistent, medical advice should be sought.

People taking exactly the same amount of a particular drug, may find that their reactions greatly differ. How long does it take for drugs to work? The time it takes to get seizures under control varies from person to person. In other cases, different drugs or combinations of drugs and different dosages may need to be tried before good results are achieved. Some people may find that as soon as they start their AED, their seizures stop.

Possible side effects: Drowsiness, headache, memory problems, tiredness, dizziness. Levetivacetam (Keppra) Used for partial seizures.


If one drug doesn’t work, then the doctor will try different dosages and perhaps try another drug. If controlling seizures proves difficult, then a doctor may decide to try a combination of drugs. They also come in different forms like tablets, capsules, liquid or crushable. Epilepsy medicines come in different dosages and strengths. Different AEDs work in different ways.

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So if you feel that a drug is not working as well as it used to, it is important to discuss this with the doctor. Epilepsy treatment is kept under review.

Possible side effects: Drowsiness, dizziness, headache, nausea, double vision. Oxcarbazepine (Trileptal) Used for partial seizures.

People who are seizure free for a number of years may feel that they would like to stop using their AED. The aim with AEDs is to have the required level of medicine in the blood system to control seizures. This could trigger a seizure. It important that the instructions on the prescription are carefully followed and people look after their care, with regular visits to a health professional to discuss progress. It is very important not to stop taking an epilepsy drug unless this has been discussed with a doctor and it has been recommended.

Primidone (Mysoline) As Phenobarbitone (Primidone is partly metabolised to phenobarbitone in the body).

Headache, slowing of mental performance, drowsiness, dizziness, pins and needles in hands and feet, loss of weight, kidney stones. Topiramate (Topamax) Used in partial seizures where previous treatment has been ineffective.

Clobazam (Frisium) Used for generalised tonic-clonic and partial seizures, but tolerance frequently develops. Possible side effects: Drowsiness may occur but this drug is much less sedating than clonazepam or diazepam.

Clonazepam (Rivotril) Used for partial seizures, absences and myoclonic jerks. Possible side effects: Drowsiness and sedation are quite common, but these may wear off and tolerance tends to develop.

The overall picture regarding various aspects of health should be discussed with your doctor to see what medicines you need to be taking and what side effects or interactions might be expected.

Ethosuximide (Zarontin, Emeside) Used for absence seizures only. Possible side effects: Nausea and drowsiness may occur.

Gabapentin (Neurontin) Used for partial seizures where previous treatment has been ineffective. Possible side effects: Drowsiness, dizziness, headache and fatigue.

Serum level monitoring essential. Coarsening of facial features, overgrowth of gums and acne may be a problem with prolonged therapy. Phenytoin (Epanutin) Used for generalised tonic-clonic and partial seizures. Possible side effects: Skin rash, drowsiness, unsteadiness and slurred speech.

Sodium Valproate (Epilim) Used for generalised tonic-clonic and partial seizures and absences. However, these effects are usually reversible if the dose is reduced. Drowsiness and tremor are infrequent side-effects. Hair loss occurs in some people and on occasions excessive weight gain may occur.

Possible side effects: Nausea, unsteadiness and drowsiness may occur initially but sedation and slowing of mental performance may persist. Phenobarbitone Used for generalised tonic-clonic and partial seizures.

Carbamazepine (Tegretol, Tegretol Retard) Used for generalised tonic-clonic and partial seizures Possible side effects: Skin rash, double vision, unsteadiness and nausea may occur initially or if the dose is too high.

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Possible side effects: Drowsiness, nausea, behaviour and mood changes. Psychotic reactions have been reported NB: People taking Vigabatrin should have a regular eye sight check up, particularly to monitor visual field problems. Vigabatrin (Sabril) Used for partial and secondary generalised seizures where previous treatment has been ineffective.

The usual approach is that your health professional will start with a low dose of a selected AED and gradually increase the dosage if necessary to achieve the best results in your particular case. The key to good control of epilepsy is that medicines are tailored to each individual. There are many different AEDs. A hospital specialist or GP is the person who will decide the most appropriate drug, while an epilepsy nurse may also be involved in follow-up advice.

Tiagabine (Gabitril) Used in partial seizures where previous treatment has been ineffective. Possible side effects: Dizziness, fatigue, anxiety, tremors, concentration difficulties, depression of mood, jerkiness of limbs.

Read the instructions with the packet very carefully. Another issue to discuss with your doctor or pharmacist is the question of routine remedies that are bought in a pharmacy and whether there might be possible interactions. Also check with your doctor/pharmacist about herbal and other remedies, which are not regulated and may not have any information leaflets.

Epilepsy medicines