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Seizure Medication

Medications are the most common treatment for recurrent epileptic seizures. At Barnes-Jewish Hospital, our epilepsy specialists try medications first because they control seizures in 60-70 percent of people with epilepsy.

Seeing hundreds of seizure patients each year, we can diagnose and monitor your seizures using video EEG and other advanced tools at our 12-bed epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU). In this controlled environment, we can safely test seizure medications until we find the right one for your case.

Goal of Seizure Medication

Anti-seizure drugs can’t cure the condition, but they can reduce seizure frequency or completely stop seizures from occurring. When using anti-seizure medications, our goal is for you to have no seizures or side effects. This can be a challenge, as all medicines have the potential to cause side effects.

It may take time to find the right medication and dosage, but staying at our EMU often helps our epileptologists and other specialists find what works for your seizures faster than testing medications at home. Seeking seizure treatment early at our Comprehensive Epilepsy Center is a great first step.

How Does Anti-Seizure Medication Work?

Anti-seizure medicines work by reducing the abnormal electrical activity in the brain that is causing the seizures. Different medicines do this in different ways, and some work better for certain kinds of seizures than others.

For instance:

  • Some medicines affect the way neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) send messages in the brain.
  • Others attach to brain cells and change the way ions move in and out of them. Ions affect how electrical activity travels down a brain cell.
  • Some medications work in both ways to treat symptoms.

Finding Success with Seizure Medication

Your neurologist will choose this medicine depending on the type of seizure you have, side effects, drug interactions and your other health conditions.

Common examples of medication for seizures include:

  • Benzodiazepines, such as clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Carbamazepine (Tegretol)
  • Divalproex sodium (Depakote) and valproic acid (Depakene)
  • Gabapentin (Neurontin)
  • Lamotrigine (Lamictal)
  • Levetiracetam (Keppra)
  • Phenytoin (Dilantin)
  • Pregabalin (Lyrica)
  • Tiagabine hydrochloride (Gabitril)
  • Topiramate (Topamax)

Partnering with Washington University School of Medicine, Barnes-Jewish is an Academic Medical Center (AMC) and is on the forefront of refining the use of the latest seizure treatments, including medication.

If medication is unsuccessful, our specialists will work together to determine if surgery or a different treatment is right for you. Our experts carefully consider the risks and benefits before making a recommendation.

To make an appointment with a Washington University neurologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, call 855.925.0631.

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General Information: 314.747.3000
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