Epilepsy Services of Southwest Florida

Medications

For over 80 years, the most effective treatment for epilepsy and seizure disorders has been through the use of seizure-preventing medications called anti-convulsant or anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs).

While these medications do not cure epilepsy, they make it possible for many people to live normal, active lives completely free of seizures. Other people may continue to have seizures, but less frequently. And there are still those who need other treatment methods as the drugs are not effective against their seizures.

There is much variability among people and the AEDs they take including side effects and the drug’s effectiveness against their type of seizures. It often takes a good deal of time to find the right medication (mono therapy), or combination of medication (polytherapy), in the right dosage to reach an effective seizure-preventing level in a person.

It is important to remember that these medications will only work if they are taken regularly, every day! To help the medicine work, here are some suggestions:

  • Take the medicine at the same time every day;
  • Take the exact amount of medicine that the doctor has said–changing your dose on your own might cause you to have a seizure;
  • If medicine is a liquid, shake the bottle well before you pour the dose to ensure that the medication is properly distributed in the liquid;
  • Keep your medicines in a cool, dry place, out of children’s reach;
  • Report any side effects and seizure activity to your doctor, he/she may want to try a different dose or a different medication altogether;
  • Ask your doctor ahead of time what to do if you miss a dose of medication;
  • Don’t run out of medication–renew your prescription in a timely manner so you always have at least a week’s supply on hand;
  • Ask your doctor ahead of time if there are any over-the-counter medicines (ex: cold pills, pain medicines), herbal products, vitamins or dietary supplements that you should not take because you are taking epilepsy medications;
  • Be careful when consuming alcohol–check with your doctor about how it may mix with your medicine;
  • Get enough sleep–lack of sleep is thought to trigger seizures.

Some common medicines for epilepsy include:

  1. Ativan (Brand name)/Lorazepam (Generic). Some side effects: drowsiness, sleepiness, fatigue, poor coordination, unsteadiness, behavior changes
  2. Banzel (Brand name)/Rufinamide (Generic). Some side effects: headache, dizziness, fatigue, sleepiness, double vision, tremors, hypersensitivity syndrome, fever, rash, fluid accumulation, swollen lymph nodes, liver injury and confusion
  3. Carbatrol (Brand name)/Extended Release Carbamazepine (Generic). Some side effects: dizziness, drowsiness, blurred or double vision, nausea, skin rashes, abnormal blood counts (rare)
  4. Depakene (Brand name)/Valproate (Generic), introduced in 1978. Some side effects: upset stomach, altered bleeding time, liver toxicity, hair loss, weight gain, tremor
  5. Depakote (Brand name)/Divalproex Sodium (Generic). Some side effects: upset stomach, altered bleeding time, liver toxicity, hair loss, weight gain, tremor
  6. Diamox (Brand name)/Acetazolamide (Generic). Some side effects: appetite loss, frequent urination, drowsiness, confusion, numbness of extremities, kidney stones
  7. Dilantin (Brand name)/Phenytoin (Generic), introduced in 1938. Some side effects: clumsiness, insomnia, motor twitching, nausea, rash, gum overgrowth, hairiness, thickening of features
  8. Felbatol (Brand name)/ Felbamate (Generic), introduced in 1993. Some side effects: anorexia, vomiting, insomnia, nausea, headache, liver and blood toxicity
  9. Gabitril (Brand name)/Tiagabine (Generic), introduced in 1997. Some side effects: tremors, dizziness, nervousness, difficulty concentrating, sleepiness, weakness
  10. Keppra (Brand name)/Levetiracetam (Generic). Some side effects: sleepiness, fatigue, poor coordination, loss of strength, dizziness
  11. Klonopin (Brand name)/Clonazepam (Generic), introduced in 1975. Some side effects: drowsiness, sleepiness, fatigue, poor coordination, unsteadiness, behavior changes
  12. Lamictal (Brand name)/Lamotrigine (Generic), introduced in 1994. Some side effects: dizziness, headache, blurred vision, clumsiness, sleepiness, nausea, skin rash
  13. Lyrica (Brand name)/Pregabalin (Generic).Some side effects: dizziness, somnolence, ataxia, asthenia, weight gain
  14. Mysoline (Brand name)/Primidone (Generic), introduced in 1954. Some side effects: clumsiness, dizziness, appetite loss, fatigue, drowsiness, hyper-irritability, insomnia, depression, hyperactivity (children)
  15. Neurontin (Brand name)/Gabapentin (Generic), introduced in 1993. Some side effects: sleepiness, dizziness, clumsiness, fatigue, twitching
  16. Onfi  (Brand name)/Clobazam (Generic), FDA approval in June of 2011. Some side effects: somnolence, sedation, drooling, constipation, cough, dysphagia, fatigue
  17. Potiga (Brand name)/Ezogabine (Generic),Some side effects: suicidal thoughts, dizziness, vertigo, fatigue, confusion, tremors, double vision, memory problems, alertness, problems with coordination, increased urinary retention
  18. Phenobarbital (Brand name)/Phenobarbital (Generic), introduced in 1912. Some side effects: drowsiness, irritability, hyperactivity (children), behavioral problems, difficulty concentrating, depression
  19. Phenytek (Brand name)/Extended Phenytoin Sodium (Generic). Some side effects: clumsiness, insomnia, motor twitching, nausea, rash, gum overgrowth, hairiness, thickening of features
  20. Sabril (Brand name)/Vigabatrin (Generic). Some side effects: sleepiness, headache, dizziness, nervousness, hyperactivity in children
  21. Tegretol (Brand name)/Carbamazepine (Generic), introduced in 1974. Some side effects: dizziness, drowsiness, blurred or double vision, nausea, skin rashes, abnormal blood counts (rare)
  22. Tegretol XR (Brand name)/Extended Release Carbamazepine (Generic). Some side effects: dizziness, drowsiness, blurred or double vision, nausea, skin rashes, abnormal blood counts (rare)
  23. Topamax (Brand name)/Topiramate (Generic), introduced in 1996. Some side effects: confusion, sleepiness, dizziness, clumsiness, difficulty thinking or talking, tingling sensation of the skin, nausea, decreased appetite
  24. Tranxene (Brand name)/Clorazepate (Generic), introduced in 1981. Some side effects: drowsiness, sleepiness, fatigue, poor coordination, unsteadiness, behavior changes
  25. Trileptal (Brand name)/Oxcarbazepine (Generic). Some side effects: difficulty concentrating, sleepiness, fatigue, dizziness, double vision, nausea, unsteadiness, rash
  26. Vimpat (Brand name)/Lacosamide (Generic). Some side effects: dizziness, headaches, nausea, vomiting, double vision, sleepiness, fatigue, unsteadiness, shakiness, memory loss, mood changes, electrocardiogram changes
  27. Zarontin (Brand name)/Ethosuximide (Generic), introduced in 1960. Some side effects: appetite loss, nausea, drowsiness, headache, dizziness, fatigue, rash, abnormal blood counts (rare)
  28. Zonegran (Brand name)/Zonisamide (Generic). Some side effects: sleepiness, dizziness, loss of appetite, headache, nausea, irritability, difficulty concentrating, unsteadiness, fever, kidney stones, rash (should not be used in individuals allergic to sulfa drugs)

The following medicine is not prescribed for daily, long-term use, but to stop episodes of prolonged or cluster seizures:

Diastat (Brand name)/Diazepam Rectal Gel (Generic). Some side effects: drowsiness, sleepiness, fatigue, poor coordination, unsteadiness, behavior changes

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