There are many medicines that treat
seizures. But, seizure medications do not cure seizures, they control seizures. Some medications only work to control for specific types of seizures. Other medications work to control a wide variety of seizure types.
Choosing the Right Medication
Choosing the right medication depends on a number of factors including:
Type of seizure a child has
Age of the child
Other medical problems the child has
Other medicines the child takes
Side effects of the medicine
Types of Seizure Medication
There are many different types of seizures and some medications work better for certain seizures types. Some common seizure types include
absence. There is also a growing number of newer medications that can be used to treat specific types of seizures.
Common medications used for generalized tonic-clonic seizures include:
Note: Many of these medications are also used to treat focal seizures.
Common medications used for focal seizures include:
The most classic medication used for absence seizures is ethosuximide, but valproate is also commonly prescribed.
Side Effects from Seizure Medications
All medications, even
over-the-counter medicines, have the
risk of side effects. Therefore, all seizures medications have some risk of side effects. Most children have few or no problems with side effects from seizure medications. Side effects vary by medication but may include:
When a child shows signs of a potential side effect from a seizure medication, it is important to consider other possible causes of that side effect. For example, a rash may be due to a viral illness or an exposure and may not be due to a seizure medication. However, because rare cases of serious rashes from seizure medications can occur, it is important to watch carefully and notify your child's primary care doctor and epilepsy doctor in the event of a rash.
Some seizure medication affects how children build strong bones. This problem is especially important for children who need to take certain seizure medications for many years. If your child needs seizure medicines for more than a year or two, ask your doctor if they need to be monitored for bone health.
Interactions with birth control
Teen and young adult epilepsy patients should be aware that some seizure medications can interact with certain forms of
birth control. This can result in abnormally high or low levels of the seizure medication or ineffectiveness of the birth control medication. This can lead to poor seizure control and/or an
Seizure medications during pregnancy
Women who are taking certain seizure medications when they become pregnant have an increased risk of having a baby with
birth defects. Some medicines are safer than others during pregnancy. Pregnancy also changes the way a woman's body metabolizes seizure medicine, so doctors monitor pregnant patients very carefully. It is important to discuss seizure medication choices with your doctor prior to becoming pregnant, if possible.
If your child has epilepsy, you should also talk with your doctor about rescue medications. Rescue medications are used when a child has a very long seizure (usually 5 minutes or longer) or has a cluster of multiple seizures in one day. There are a variety of options for rescue medications. These include medications that are given as a dissolving tablet, a rectal gel, or a nasal spray. Some commonly prescribed rescue medicines are diazepam, clonazepam, and midazolam.
Additional Information from HealthyChildren.org: