Healthy Living

Epilepsy and Seizure Medicines

Epilepsy and Seizure Medicines

Key Takeaways

  • Anti-epileptic drugs are the first line of treatment for epilepsy.
  • Some of these drugs tend to work better in certain kinds of seizures.
  • AEDs cannot fix the cause of seizures, but they work to prevent seizures from occurring.

There are various medications that can help prevent or cease seizures. These drugs are called anti-seizure drugs or anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs). The use of these drugs is the most common technique in treating epilepsy. In fact, anti-epileptic drugs are the first line of treatment for epilepsy. These medications have been efficient in controlling seizures for most people suffering from epilepsy.

Some of these drugs tend to work better in certain kinds of seizures. If one anti-epileptic drug fails, another one will work better. AEDs cannot fix the cause of seizures, but they work to prevent seizures from occurring.

There are two main categories of anti-epileptic drugs, the broad-spectrum AEDs and narrow-spectrum AEDs. The broad-spectrum AEDs are tailored for the treatment of multiple type of seizures, while the narrow-spectrum AEDs work on specific types of seizures.

Broad-Spectrum AEDs

  • Clonazepam – this medication works on different type of seizures. However, the problem with clonazepam is tolerance. As the body continues to take this drug, the body is able to adapt and gets used to it making the drug to stop working in the long run. Side effects include loss of coordination, sleepiness, memory problems, and swollen legs. In some cases, an increase in the incidence of seizures is seen.
  • Lamotrigine – a new drug that is effective in most types of seizures. Lamotrigine causes serious rashes, dizziness, headache, double vision, and clumsy movements. 
  • Felbamate – a drug that battles against a wide range of seizures, but can cause organ problems such as liver and bone marrow failure.
  • Topiramate – this drug can be used with other drugs simultaneously. It fights against many types of seizures. Topiramate causes problems with focus and memory as well as weight loss. In some cases, development of kidney stones happen. 
  • Primidone – another drug that is efficient in managing a wide range of seizures, but is used less often compared to other treatments.
  • Valproic Acid or Valproate Sodium – effective against many seizure types. Side effects include weight gain, stomach problems, hair loss, nausea, and tremors. Problems liver and pancreatic problems may also occur.

Narrow-Spectrum AEDs

  • Carbamazepine – this medication is effective in treating partial and tonic-clonic seizures. Fatigue, loss of coordination, and double vision are some of the side effects of this drug. Problems with vitamin D metabolism and calcium may also be seen. 
  • Gabapentin – this drug is effective in fighting against partial and secondary generalized seizures. The side effects are fatigue, lack of coordination, dizziness, and sleepiness. The side effects are usually mild. 
  • Ethosuximide – the drug that targets absence seizures. Drowsiness, headaches, nausea, fatigue, and hiccups are the side effects of this drug. In addition, inhibition of the production of blood cells in the bone marrow occurs.
  • Phenytoin – an old epileptic drug that is effective in treating partial and tonic-clonic seizures. The side effects of this drug include loss of coordination, tremors, dizziness, jerking of the eyes, and loss of concentration. Other side effects are acne and facial hair growth in females.
  • Phenobarbital – one of the first drugs discovered to successfully treat seizures. Although this drug is now occasionally used, it is still considered as one of the most effective drugs against many types of seizures. Fatigue, drowsiness, dizziness, lack of coordination, rashes, and a blurred vision are the common side effects. Long-term use of phenobarbital increases the risk of having anemia and osteoporosis.
  • Tiagabine Hydrochloride – a drug that is efficient in treating partial seizures. The side effects are headaches, tremors, dizziness, and sleepiness.