Epilepsy Information

Factors to consider when choosing a medication

Type of epilepsy: some medications will work for some types of epilepsy and some will not. Some seizure medications could even worsen the epilepsy so it is of utmost importance to be very accurate in characterizing what type of epilepsy the person has.

AEDs used generalized epilepsy:
• Depakote,  Lamictal, Keppra, Topamax, Zonegram 
• Zarontin (absence seizures only)
• Banzel (for Lennox-Gastaut syndrome)

AEDs used for partial epilepsy: almost all seizure medications with the exception of Zarontin

Side effects: each medication has its own side effect profile. Some have more than others, and some vary in number of side effects from one patient to another. Side effects can be divided in two major categories
• The ones that depend on the amount of medication taken: these are also called dose-dependent. Usually this kind of adverse effect can be reversed by decreasing the amount of medication. One of the most common examples is drowsiness related to high amount of some AEDs (e.g. Dilantin or Tegretol).
• The ones that do not depend on the amount of medication: these are also called dose-independent. They include allergic reactions as well as other kinds of side effects. We cannot predict in advance who is going to have these side effects.
General health condition of the patient: a complete history of the patient’s general health is essential. For example, if a patient has a liver problem we want to avoid medications that could potentially damage the liver.

Cost of the medication: it is very important that the patient can afford the medications. There is no point in prescribing the perfect medication if the person will not be able to obtain it. In the resource section, there is a list of AED assistance programs for those who cannot afford them.