There is no cure for
epilepsy, yet. Medications do not cure epilepsy in the same sense that
penicillin can cure an infection. For many people with epilepsy, however, the
medication will prevent seizures as long as they are taken regularly; but,
successful drug therapy requires the active cooperation of the patient.
successfully prevent seizures in the majority of people who take them regularly
and as prescribed. It has been estimated that at least fifty percent of all
patients with epilepsy gain complete control of their seizures for substantial
periods of time. Another twenty percent enjoy a significant reduction in the
number of seizures. If patients, in collaboration with their physicians, decide
to attempt withdrawal from medications, they should be aware that the seizures
may recur and should closely observe seizure precautions. Some individuals,
however, have an excellent chance of remaining seizure free without medication
in the future.
some people continue to have seizures regularly despite taking medication. For
them, surgical or, in children, dietary therapy with the ketogenic diet may be
helpful. There is also hope that continuing research will produce new drugs and
new ways of using them that will eventually give seizure relief to everyone who
has epilepsy. The Epilepsy Foundation continues to fund basic and clinical
research in the field of epilepsy and seizure disorders, and is looking forward
to the time when a cure for these conditions will be achieved.
epilepsy medicines are taken by mouth. The doctor's choice of which drug to
prescribe depends on what kind of seizure a person is having. People react to
medicines in different ways. Some experience side effects, others may not. Some
people's seizures will respond well to a particular drug while someone else
will have seizures that continue. It may take some time to find exactly the
right dose of the right drug for each person with epilepsy.
possible, doctors try to prevent seizures with a single medication. This is
called monotherapy. However, some people may require polytherapy, the use of
more than one medication to achieve seizure control.When selecting a drug, your
doctor will consider the type of seizures you have. Not all medications work
for all types of seizures.
all drugs, epilepsy medicines have side effects. Some are dose-related, and
become more likely as the dose increases.
Intractable: Seizures that do not
respond to medications. Twenty percent of people with epilepsy have these kinds
of seizures. Also known as "refractory to treatment."
authors report that antiepileptic drugs provide complete control for more than
half of all patients with epilepsy, and reduce the number of seizures in
another 20 to 30 percent. The remaining 20 percent do not respond to current
medications and their condition is termed “intractable” or “refractory to
treatment.” Some of these people may have other treatment options, such as
surgery, or (in children) the ketogenic diet.
in the medical literature suggest between 75 and 80 percent of patients
with idiopathic, generalized epilepsy have reliable, long term control of
seizures on currently available drugs. Some patient surveys, however, show
larger percentages of people continuing to have seizures, although they may
describe their condition as being under control. Selection bias (clinic-based
survey respondents may be more severely affected) may have some bearing on
these different results; also, physicians and patients may have different
interpretations of control.
is a term which describes the
degree to which the person with epilepsy (or the parent of a child with
epilepsy) follows the physician's directions on how and when medicine should be
taken, and (sometimes) on what kinds of lifestyle changes.