Antiepileptic medication | Epilepsy treatment | About epilepsy

Antiepileptic medication

Although antiepileptic medication will not cure epilepsy, it is designed to prevent seizures from happening. For about 70% of those with epilepsy, good seizure control can be achieved through taking medication.

Treating a patient with antiepileptic medication should be decided by both the patient (plus parent/guardian if the patient is unable to give consent) and the doctor. However this decision may be affected by:

  • The type of seizure that the patient has experienced
  • How often seizures occur
  • The epilepsy syndrome (if it has been established)
  • Results or findings from the EEG or MRI

Some medications work better for certain types of seizures than for others. Finding the right medication can be lengthy and frustrating because the first drug may not be the best option. There is no test to identify which drug will be best.

Taking or giving medication

  • Make sure that the same brand of medication is always used, because the effectiveness of antiepileptic medication can vary from one brand to another. If you have problems with the substitution of antiepileptic drugs, talk to the dispensing chemist and/or your doctor.
  • Take or give the medication regularly as prescribed and at a set time.
  • If you need to take or give any other medications, including herbal and complementary medicines, always check first with your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Take or give the medication regularly as prescribed and at a set time.
  • If a dose is missed and you remember up to three hours after missing the dose, take or give the forgotten dose immediately. If you remember only at, or near, the time that the next dose is due, just take or give the usual dose.
  • If the patient has been taking the medication regularly, do not stop it suddenly without advice from your doctor.
  • Do not flush any medication down the toilet or throw it away. Return any unused medication to a pharmacist.
  • Always keep a record of the different medication that has been prescribed. This will allow the doctor to see the date a medicine was started, stopped, the dose that was given and the effects it had.

Common side effects of antiepileptic drugs

Different drugs may have different side effects. Only a small number of children experience these, and they may reduce after the first few times it is taken. Most common side effects are:

  • Memory, learning and attention problems
  • Drowsiness and lethargy
  • Dizziness or unsteadiness
  • Double vision
  • Changes in mood or behaviour
  • Increase or decrease in appetite

Be sure to note any side effects that could be due to the medication and talk to your doctor. If the patient is a child and they develop a rash, you should inform the doctor as soon as possible.

Helpline: 01342 831342 (Mon-Fri, 9am-3pm)
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Star Fact!

In the UK 1,150 people died of epilepsy related causes in 2009.

Cyber EssentialsFundraising RegulatorYoung Epilepsy is the operating name of The National Centre for Young People with Epilepsy Charitable Trust.
Registered Charity number 311877 (England and Wales)

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