Anti-Epileptic Drug Therapy

Anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs), also known as anti-seizure medications, have been around since the early 1940s and may be effective in stopping seizures for 70 percent of people with epilepsy. With pharmacological research advances, we now have over 25 AEDs with many more being added to the list of drugs to treat epileptic seizures. Approximately 60 to 70 percent of individuals become seizure-free after trying one medication, and another 10 to 20 percent after attempting a second or third medication. AEDs are an important part of the treatment in children with epilepsy.

Certain medications may be linked to specific epilepsy types, hence the need for the correct diagnosis. The 30 to 40 percent of children who do not respond to AEDs are offered epilepsy surgery or a specific diet that could reduce or stop their seizures. If anti-epileptic medications do not provide satisfactory results, your doctor may suggest epilepsy surgery or other therapies.

Antiepileptic medications may have side effects, but these side effects are often well tolerated. Some of the common side effects include:

  • Sleep disruption
  • Dizziness
  • Weight gain/loss
  • Chronic loss of bone mass
  • Loss of coordination
  • Slower processing speeds
  • Behavioral disruption

More concerning but rare side effects include:

  • Depression
  • Rash that may become severe
  • Inflammation of certain organs, such as your pancreas or liver
  • Suicidal thoughts

To achieve the best seizure control possible with medication:

  • Always take medications exactly as prescribed
  • Alert your doctor to other prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs or herbal remedies you are taking
  • Never stop taking your medication without talking to your doctor
  • Notify your doctor immediately if you notice new or any concerning changes in your child’s behavior