Munson Health
 
Medications for Epilepsy

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by Alan R
 
The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included. Ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications as recommended by your doctor, or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor.
Medications are the first line of treatment for epilepsy. Anti-epileptic medications should only be used if the diagnosis is established. The goal of medication is to prevent epileptic seizures and to decrease the frequency and severity of seizures. The type and dosage of medication given must match the type of epilepsy you have. Dosage is important. It must balance prevention of seizures with the side effects that epileptic drugs can cause.
Often, but not always, one type of medication is tried at a time until the most effective one is found. Changes in medication are often made gradually because these changes can increase the likelihood of seizures. Good control is achieved in the majority of people.
In some cases, however, anti-epileptic medications may be used in combination. In approximately 80% of people, epileptic medication is fully or partially successful in preventing seizures. Be sure to take the medication on a regular schedule.

Prescription Medications

Carbamazepine
  • Tegretol
  • Carbatrol
Ethosuximide
  • Zarontin
Gabapentin
  • Neurontin
Lamotrigine
  • Lamictal
Oxcarbazepine
  • Trileptal
Phenytoin
  • Dilantin
Primidone
  • Mysoline
Valproic acid
  • Depakene
Diazepam Rectal Gel
  • Diastat
Vigabatrin
  • Sabril
Phenobarbital
  • Luminal
Topiramate
  • Topamax
Levetiracetam
  • Keppra
Lacosamide
  • Vimpat
Zonisamide
  • Zonegran
Rufinamide
  • Banzel
Tiagabine
  • Gabitril
Clobazam
  • Onfi
Ezogabine
  • Potiga
 

Phenobarbital

Common brand name: Luminal
Possible side effects include:
  • Depression
  • Sleepiness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty in thinking clearly
  • Reduced effectiveness of birth control pills—Your doctor will recommend that you use another form of birth control.
  • Increased risk of suicidal thinking and behavior
Phenobarbital is a barbiturate, a type of medicine that can be addictive. To avoid withdrawal symptoms, you doctor will slowly reduce the dose when it is time for you to stop taking phenobarbital.
 

Zonisamide

Common brand name: Zonegran
Possible side effects include:
  • Lightheadedness
  • Sleepiness
  • Blurry vision
  • Unable to think clearly
  • Feeling nervous and excitable
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Not feeling hungry
  • Serious skin reactions, rarely
 

Ezogabine

Common brand name: Potiga
This medication is used to control seizures in adults with epilepsy. The medicine is often prescribed in combination with other anti-epileptic medicine.
Possible side effects include:
  • Lightheadedness
  • Tiredness or confusion
  • Vertigo—sensation of spinning
  • Tremor
  • Problems with coordination
  • Double vision
  • Attention and memory problems
  • Lack of strength
  • Hallucinations or psychosis
  • Suicidal thoughts or changes in mood
  • Urinary problems

Special Considerations

Before taking any of these medicines, consult with your doctor if you:
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have heart disease
  • Have glaucoma
  • Have emotional or mental problems
  • Have liver or kidney disease
  • Have a history of blood disorders
  • Have asthma or any other lung disorder
  • Have a blood disorder
  • Have a sodium disorder
  • Will be having any surgery within two months
  • Are taking any other medicines
  • Plan to become pregnant
  • Drink more than two alcoholic drinks per day
  • Have any known allergies
If you are taking medicines, follow these general guidelines:
  • Take your medicine as directed. Do not change the amount or the schedule.
  • Do not stop taking them without talking to your doctor.
  • Do not share them.
  • Use a measuring spoon, cup, or syringe to give the right dose. Make sure it has the same measurements as the medicine. For example, if the medicine is given in milligrams (mg), the device should also say mg.
  • Ask what the results and side effects are. Report them to your doctor.
  • Some drugs can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to a doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than one drug. This includes over-the-counter medicine and herb or dietary supplements.
  • Plan ahead for refills so you do not run out.

When to Contact Your Doctor

Contact your doctor if you:
  • Have any unusual, rare, or severe symptoms or side effects
  • Suffer any repeat seizures
 

References


Antiepileptic drugs for seizure disorders. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated February 15, 2013. Accessed February 22, 2013.


Berkow R. The Merck Manual of Medical Information. 17th ed. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster; 2000.


Dreifuss FE, Rosman NP, et al. A comparison of rectal diazepam gel and placebo for acute repetitive seizures. N Engl J Med. 1998;338:1869-1875


FDA approves Onfi to treat severe types of seizures. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm276932.htm. Accessed February 22, 2013.


Lacosamide. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. January 18, 2013. Accessed February 22, 2013.


Lamotrigine. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated February 15, 2013. Accessed February 22, 2013.


Lennox-Gastaut syndrome . EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated August 2, 2012. Accessed February 22, 2013.


Levetiracetam. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated February 15, 2013. Accessed February 22, 2013.


Myoclonic seizures. Epilepsy Foundation website. Available at: http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/aboutepilepsy/seizures/genconvulsive/myoclonicseizures.cfm. Accessed February 22, 2013.


Phenobarbital. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated January 18, 2013. Accessed February 22, 2013.


Rufinamide. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated January 18, 2013. Accessed February 22, 2013.


Tiagabine. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated January 18, 2013. Accessed February 22, 2013.


Topiramate. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated January 18, 2013. Accessed February 22, 2013. .


Vigabatrin. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated January 18, 2013. Accessed February 22, 2013.


Zonisamide. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated January 18, 2013. Accessed February 22, 2013.


12/20/2007 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. 2007 safety alerts for drugs, biologics, medical devices, and dietary supplements: Carbamazepine (marketed as Carbatrol, Equetro, Tegretol and generics). Medwatch. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/medwatch/safety/2007/safety07.htm#carbamazepine.


11/10/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Sabril approved by FDA to treat spasms in infants and epileptic seizures. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm179855.htm. Updated August 21, 2009. Accessed October 8, 2009.


5/14/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Patorno E, Bohn RL, et al. Anticonvulsant medications and the risk of suicide, attempted suicide, or violent death. JAMA. 2010;303(14):1401-1409.


8/23/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. US Food and Drug Administration. Aseptic meningitis risk with use of seizure drug lamictal. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm222212.htm. Published August 12, 2010. Accessed August 21, 2010.


12/17/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Andersohn F, Schade R, et al Use of antiepileptic drugs in epilepsy and the risk of self-harm or suicidal behavior. Neurology. 2010;75(4):335-340.

 

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