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Epilepsy Treatment and Prescription Medications

Updated on October 22, 2009

Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a neurological condition, which means it's one that affects your brain. Epilepsy is diagnosed when a person has recurring seizures, which are sudden bursts of energy in brain cells that send electrical signals to each other.

One person's seizures can be very different from another, but they are all caused by the same functions in the brain.

In order to prevent seizures, most people with epilepsy take one or more anti-epileptic drugs. A doctor will prescribe the medications for you based on what type of seizures you're having and other things about you. People react differently to different medications, so it may take some time for your doctor to find the best treatment that works for you. It's not uncommon to try many different medications and combinations of medications before your doctor figures out your treatment method.

Anti-epileptic drugs do not work properly unless you have certain amount of medicine in your body. Your doctor may periodically measure the amount of medicine in your blood in order to make sure that you are at the right level. Variations in the amount of medicine that is in your blood may result in side effects or seizures, which is why it's important that you take the medications as prescribed by your doctor, and that you tell your doctor about any side effects or seizures that you may be experiencing.

Taking medicine every day can be challenging, especially for people who suffer from epilepsy, as you may feel fine one day so you just may not remember to take the medicine. You should be honest about your symptoms because how you take your medicine is very important. You want to keep an open and honest relationship with your doctor about how you're taking your medicine so that he can properly gauge what medicines and how much is going to be right for you. The only want that you can treat epilepsy is to be honest and to take your medications as prescribed.

Dealing with Challenges of Taking Medications as Prescribed

Factors that can Affect Taking Medicines as Prescribed
Ways to Deal with These Challenges
Drug isn't working
Make sure that ou take your antiepileptic drug as prescribed. If you're still having seizures, discuss this with your doctor, as he may want to try a different dose or drug.
Unpleasant side effects
Talk to your doctor, as he may want to change the dose or drug that you're on. Sometimes side effects become less severe or go away completely as your body adjusts to the drug.
Can't remember to take medicine daily
Put your pills where you will see them at the same time each day, such as next to your toothbrush or coffee maker. Ask someone in the house to remoind you. Set a watch alarm. Use a pill reminder box.
Have been seizure-free for a long time
Do not reduce or stop taking your medicines without discussing it with your doctor first. Talk about the likelihood of the seizures coming back or remaining seizure-free.
Cannot afford medicines
Talk to your doctor about other options. The maker of your medicine may offer a patient assistance program. You could discuss switching to a less expensive brand-name drug or a generic drug. If you have prescription insurance, find out if there is a cheaper mail-order option. You can also contact the Partnership for Prescription Assisstance (PPA) or Together Rx Access to find out if you qualify for free or low-cost medicines.

Filling Your Antiepileptic Medicine Prescriptions

When you go to your pharmacy to fill your medications, you want to make sure that you're getting the medicine that you're after. Depending on what state you live in, the pharmacist may substitute a generic drug for the brand-name one, especially if the doctor doesn't specify brand-name only. In some states, the pharmacist may not be required to tell you or your doctor about the substitution. The Epilepsy Foundation has expressed concern about the mandatory substitution of generic anti-epileptic drugs without prior approval of the patient and doctor. In some cases, the generic version may not be a problem, but in other cases the doctor may really prefer the brand-name.

You want to always ask your doctor before using a generic medication in replace of a brand-name drug. It is a much cheaper option, which is nice on your bank account, but you want to make sure that it's going to have the exact same effect on your seizures.

Always check the label and what the pills look like before you leave the pharmacist, as every company will have a slightly different looking pill.

Because the ideal goal of treating epilepsy is to prevent seizures and manage the side effects from the medicines, you want to make sure that any decision you have to make is an informed one. The best chance of managing epilepsy is to work closely with your doctor to find a treatment plan that works for you. Once you have a plan, it's important that you follow it and be consistent.

Disclaimer

I am not a doctor, physician, or specialist. The information that I have provided is from personal research. For more information, always ask your neurologist form more information.

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