Dr. Sheryl Haut: Hi! I am Dr. Sheryl Haut from the International League Against Epilepsy. I want to talk to you about epilepsy treatments. At the moment, there is no medical cure for epilepsy. So the goal of treatment is to keep these seizures from happening, and the first line of treatment is medicine. Today, we have more than ten different medications from which we can choose. Part of the choice of the medicine will be guided by the type of epilepsy you have, because some of the drugs will be more effective for some types of epilepsy than others. Although, some of the medicines are better for certain epilepsies, there is no best epilepsy medicine. In choosing the medicine, the doctor would consider a number of factors, including the type of epilepsy and the possible side effects. If you are a woman, who might wish to have children or if you are taking birth control pills, the doctor will choose a medicine that is unlikely to have an effect on your child or to interfere with the effectiveness of the pill.
Most people react well to their epilepsy medicines, but side effects can have them, and if they do, you should let your doctor know. Some of the most common side effects are dizziness, poor balance or coordination, shakiness or blurry vision. Some people experience a change in personality. Some times they see the change themselves, but at times the change is only noticed by family, friends or colleagues. In children, the first sign of a side effect may be when they begin to have more trouble with school work. Although, most side effects are mild and often get better with reducing the dose. In some cases, the problems caused by the medicine truly worsen your quality of life. If this happens, you need to let your doctor know, so that medicine can be replaced with another.
Our goal in treating your seizures is to stop your seizures without side effects. The treatment should not cause problems.
Most people do well in the first medicine they take. But in some cases, a second or third medicine has to be tried before the seizures are controlled and you aren't bothered by side effects. In some cases, the medicines do not stop all of the seizures. In those cases, there are other treatments that can be used, such as surgery. But in these cases you should consult an epilepsy specialist at an Epilepsy Center.