What epilepsy medications are available?
Depending on the seizure type, different treatments may be prescribed. Most people with epilepsy can become free of their seizures by using a single antiepileptic drug. For others, medication can make seizures less frequent and less intense. More than half of children with epilepsy whose seizures are controlled by medications can eventually stop their
medications and live a seizure-free life. Many adults also can discontinue medication after two or more years without seizures.
Finding the right medication and dosage can be complex. It might take more than one drug, or trying several different drugs until the right one is found. Medications available for the treatment of seizures include phenytoin (Dilantin, Phenytek), carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Tegretol), valproic acid (Depakene), divalproex (Depakote), levetiracetam (Keppra), gabapentin (Neurontin), phenobarbital, ethosuximide (Zarontin), clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan, Lorazepam Intensol), diazepam (Diastat, Valium), primidone (Mysoline), oxcarbazepine (Trileptal), lamotrigine (Lamictal), topiramate (Topamax), felbamate (Felbatol), tiagabine (Gabitril) and zonisamide (Zonegran).
Carbamazapine is most effective against partial or tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizures. Side effects: double vision, headache, sleepiness, dizziness, and upset stomach. These usually subside in about a week. Clonazepam is used to treat myoclonic and atonic seizures that cannot be controlled by other drugs. Side effects: About half the people who take clonazepam experience drowsiness, about a third have problems with balance, and about a third have personality changes like irritability. Children may become hyperactive. Ethosuximide is used for treating absence (petit mal) seizures. It stops seizures for 60% of the people who take it and controls seizures for 90%. Side effects: stomach problems, dizziness, clumsiness, and lethargy (lack of energy and ambition). Phenobarbital is used to treat tonic-clonic (grand mal) and simple partial seizures. Side effects: drowsiness, changes in behavior, rash, learning problems. Phenytoin is most effective in treating tonic-clonic (grand mal) and simple and complex partial seizures. Side effects: High doses can cause drowsiness, staggering, nausea, shrinking gums, and growth of body hair. Primidone has the same uses as phenobarbital, although it may not be as effective in some people. Valproate is usually the first drug chosen to treat all generalized seizures. Side effects: can cause liver problems, stomach problems, blood disorders, tremor, and hair loss. For most people these side effects are minor and disappear after the first few weeks of treatment. A number of new drugs have become available in recent years. Lamotrigine, gabapentin, and topiramate are among the many new drugs used in treating epilepsy. These drugs are often used in combination with older medications and are sometimes called "add-on" drugs.
More information on epilepsy (seizures)
What is epilepsy? - Epilepsy is a general term that includes various types of seizures. Epilepsy is characterized by unprovoked, recurring seizures that disrupt the nervous system.
What are seizures? - Seizures (or convulsions) are temporary alterations in brain functions due to abnormal electrical activity of a group of brain cells that present with apparent clinical symptoms and findings.
What types of seizures are there? - The two main categories of seizures include partial seizures and generalized seizures. A partial seizure can evolve to a generalized seizure.
What types of epilepsy are there? - There are several types of epilepsy. Epilepsy can be divided into two broad categories: idiopathic epilepsy and symptomatic epilepsy.
What're the common types of epilepsy? - The most common types of epilepsy are absence epilepsy, temporal lobe epilepsy, frontal lobe epilepsy, occipital lobe epilepsy, and parietal lobe epilepsy.
What causes epilepsy? - Epilepsy may be caused by a number of unrelated conditions, including damage resulting from high fever, stroke, toxicity, or electrolyte imbalances.
What causes children epilepsy? - There are many possible causes of epilepsy in children. Seizures in infants and children may be due to birth defects, difficulties during delivery, or poisoning.
What factors will trigger epilepsy? - The triggers of epilepsy include inadequate sleep, food allergies, alcohol and smoking, flashing lights, developmental anomalies, and brain tumours.
What're the symptoms of epilepsy? - There are many forms of epilepsy, each with its own characteristic symptoms. The basic symptom of epilepsy is a brief and abnormal phase of behavior.
How is epilepsy diagnosed? - Making an accurate diagnosis is vital in planning the correct treatment to control seizures. Taking a medical history can help rule out non-epilepsy conditions.
What're the treatments for epilepsy? - For most people with epilepsy, treatment can reduce or prevent seizures and allow many patients to remain free of seizures for the rest of their lives.
What epilepsy medications are available? - Epilepsy is often treated with medication, neurocybernetic prostheses. Medications available for the treatment of seizures include phenytoin, carbamazepine, divalproex.
What epilepsy surgeries are available? - Surgical techniques to remove injured brain tissue may be appropriate for many patients with epilepsy. The most common surgery for epilepsy is temporal lobectomy.
What is vagus nerve stimulation? - Vagus nerve stimulation is a recently developed form of seizure control which uses an implanted electrical device.
What epilepsy diet is suggested? - It is believe that a restricted caloric intake while on a balanced diet can lead to measurable seizure reduction among all age groups.
How to prevent epilepsy? - Effective actions for the prevention of epilepsy include adequate pre-natal and post-natal care, safe delivery, control of fever in children, control of parasitic diseases.
Epilepsy in children - Epilepsy is a common childhood disorder. The prospect of control by means of anti-epileptic drugs is good in most children with epilepsy.
Pregnancy and epilepsy - Women with epilepsy who become pregnant have a higher risk for complications than women who don't have epilepsy.
Difference between seizures and epilepsy - Seizures are a symptom of epilepsy. Epilepsy is the underlying tendency of the brain to produce a sudden burst of electrical energy.
What's a grand mal seizure? - A grand mal seizure is a seizure involving the entire body, usually characterized by muscle rigidity, violent rhythmic muscle contractions, and loss of consciousness.
What's absence seizure (petit mal seizure)? - Absence seizure e - also known as petit mal seizure - is a type of seizure that most often occurs in children.
What is a febrile seizure? - A febrile seizure is a convulsion in a child triggered by a fever. A febrile seizure may be as mild as the child's eyes rolling or limbs stiffening.
What are epileptic seizures? - An epileptic seizure, often referred to as a fit, occurs when there is an abnormal discharge of neurones in the brain.
What is status epilepticus? - Status epilepticus is a continuous seizure state. Status epilepticus is most often caused by not taking anticonvulsant medication as prescribed.
What causes seizures? - Seizures may be caused by many conditions, diseases, injuries, and other factors. Injuries that may cause seizures include choking, head injury.