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Medication for Epilepsy

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Epilepsy cannot be ‘Cured’ with medication. However, various medicines can control the seizures by stabilising the electrical activity of the brain. The success in controlling seizures by medication varies depending on the type of epilepsy. If there is no underlying cause for your seizures – Idiopathic epilepsy, you have a good chance that medication can fully control your seizures. Seizures caused by a core brain problem may be more difficult to control.

Your physician will take into account various conditions, such as your age, type of epilepsy, other medicines you may be taking, possible side–effects, if you are pregnant, etc while choosing your medication. There are some popular medicines for each type of epilepsy and if one does not suit you, another may be better.

Doctors usually start at the lowest possible dose to control seizures. The dose is usually increased if you have further seizures. Medicines are available as tablets, soluble tablets, capsules, or liquids.

Side–effects of Epilepsy Medications
Most medicines have probable side–effects, not everyone is effected. The listed of side–effects are found in the which comes in the medicine box. You should read this even though it may appear alarming. Many of the side–effects listed, are rare. When you start medication, don’t forget to ask your doctor about any problems that may arise for that particular medicine. Do not stop taking a medicine suddenly, if you notice a side–effect, but consult your doctor for advice. One of the common side–effect is sleepiness but eases or goes once the body gets used to the medicine. Side–effects which are rare, but you still need to be aware of are rashes or bruising whilst taking certain medicines.

Re–occurring Seizures
In some cases, seizures are not controlled immediately in spite of taking medicine. This could be because the dosage or timing of the medication needs re–assessing. A common cause of seizures is taking medication incorrectly. If you have taken a medicine correctly up to its maximum allowed dose, but it has not worked well, you may be advised to switch to a different medicine. If that does not work alone, taking two medicines together may be advised. It is quite uncommon that seizures are not controlled with two medicines.

Importance of correct medication
It is important to take your medicine as prescribed. Try to get into a daily routine. Forgetting an occasional dose is not a problem for some people, but for others would lead to breakthrough seizures. One of the reasons why seizures recur is due to not taking medication properly.

Duration of Epilepsy Medication
The chance of seizures recurring is higher for some types of epilepsy than others, only your doctor will be able to advise you, so follow his instructions religiously. You may be able to stop medication if your seizures have been well controlled for two or more years. Since there are many different types of epilepsy, some of which are age dependent may not need medication for long, but there are others that will need medication for life. Your life circumstances may influence the decision about stopping medication. If a decision is made to stop medication, it is best done gradually, reducing the dose over a period of several weeks or months. Follow the advice given by a doctor.

How effective is Medication used for Epilepsy?
The success in controlling seizures by medication varies depending on the type of epilepsy. For example, if no underlying cause can be found for your seizures you have a good chance that medication can fully control your seizures. Seizures caused by some underlying brain problems may be more difficult to control.

The following figures are based on studies of people with epilepsy which looked back over a five year period. These figures are based on grouping people with all types of epilepsy together which gives an overall picture.
  1. About 5 in 10 people with epilepsy will have no seizures at all over a five year period. Many of these people will be taking medication to control seizures. Some will have stopped treatment having had two or more years without a seizure whilst taking medication.
  2. About 3 in 10 people with epilepsy will have some seizures in this five year period, but far fewer than if they had not taken medication.
  3. In total, with medication about 8 in 10 people with epilepsy are well controlled with either no, or few, seizures.
  4. The remaining 2 in 10 people experience seizures, despite medication.


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