There are a large number of medications available for the treatment of seizures. Some work on most seizure types, some only a few.
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There are numerous medications
available for the treatment of seizures. Some work on most seizure types and
some work on only a few. There are also a variety of side effects to consider,
depending on which drugs are being administered. They can include tremors,
rashes, weight gain, and drowsiness.
According to the Mayo Clinic, half
of people newly diagnosed with epilepsy will become seizure-free with their
first medication. Your doctor will be able to help you make a decision about
which medications are right for your case.
The two main
classifications of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) are narrow-spectrum AEDs and
Narrow-spectrum AEDs work
on specific types of seizures, while broad-spectrum AEDs work on multiple types
of seizures and other conditions.
(Tegretol): This drug
tends to be more effective with partial and tonic clonic seizures. Side
effects include fatigue, double vision, loss of coordination, and possibly
an effect on the body’s calcium and vitamin D metabolism. It can also, in
rare cases, cause a decrease in infection fighting cells in the blood.
- ethosuxemide (Zarontin): This drug only works to control
absence seizures. Side effects include drowsiness and fatigue, headaches,
hiccups, and nausea. It can also cause rash and or reduction of blood cell
production in the bones.
- gabapentin (Neurontin): This drug can be effective
against partial and secondary generalized seizures. Side effects are
usually few and mild with Gabapentin. They include sleepiness and fatigue,
dizziness, and lack of coordination.
(Luminal): One of the
first drugs found to be effective in fighting seizures and still occasionally
used. It is effective against many types of seizures. The drawbacks of
phenobarbital include fatigue, rash, drowsiness, blurred vision, dizziness,
lack of coordination, and rashes. Other potential side effects include
behavioral changes, loss of focus, and concentration. Long-term use can
also increase the risk of osteoporosis and anemia.
- phenytoin (Dilantin): This is another drug that
has been used to treat epilepsy for some time. Unlike phenobarbital, phenytoin
tends to be more effective with partial and tonic clonic seizures than
with other types. Side effects can include dizziness, loss of
coordination, slurring speech, tremors, loss of concentration, and jerking
of the eyes. Some of the more pronounced side effects include facial hair
growth in women, increased growth of the gums, and acne.
- tiagabine hydrochloride (Gabitril):
This drug is effective against partial seizures. This drug can cause
dizziness, headaches, sleepiness, and tremors.
- clonazepam (Klonopin): This drug is effective against a
wide spectrum of seizure types. The major problem with this drug is
tolerance. The body can get used to the medication and it stops working.
It can also cause sleepiness, a loss of coordination, swelling in the
legs, and memory problems. In some cases, it can cause an increase in
- felbamate (Felbatol): This drug can be effective for a
wide range of seizures. Serious side effects like failure of the liver or
bone marrow have been associated with this drug.
- lamotrigine (Lamictal): This is a newer drug that is
effective against most seizures. This drug can cause a serious rash,
headache, dizziness, clumsy movements, and double vision.
- primidone (Mysoline): This is another longtime
anticonvulsant that’s effective against a wide range of seizures. This
drug has side effects similar to those of phenobarbital and is less often
- topiramate (Topamax): This can be used in conjunction
with other drugs and is effective against a range of seizure types. This drug
can cause weight loss and cause problems with memory and focus. In some
cases, people using this drug develop kidney stones.
- valproate sodium
or valproic acid (Depakote): This drug is effective against most seizure types. Stomach
problems, weight gain, tremors, nausea, and hair loss are all side effects
that can occur with this drug. It can also cause problems with the
pancreas and the liver.
the Healthline Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by:
Brenda B. Spriggs, MD, MPH, MBA
Oct 31, 2014
Published By: Healthline Networks, Inc.