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Say you are the mother of an adorable kid who was diagnosed with epilepsy. Your world, from that moment, gets turned upside down. Along with other parenting activities that you have to do like pick-ups and drop-offs from school, helping with homework, and preparing meals, you are also coming to terms with the diagnosis. No doubt, you’d be desperately searching for solutions, going for hospital visits, and ensuring that your child takes their medication to help with seizures. All the while, you are anxiously hoping that your baby will be fine. And you worry, probably all of the time.
Or, you’re a young person with a full-time job and was recently diagnosed with epilepsy. Along with keeping up with the drastic changes in your life and adulting in general, you’re scared about having a seizure when you’re alone, have to remember to take your medications on time, and are frustrated that you might miss your doses sometimes.
Living with epilepsy or having a loved one with the condition can be hard. It is complicated to remember everything about taking or administering epilepsy medications, and you might sometimes forget. But taking these medications on time as prescribed by the doctor is important, and we hope that this article helps you understand why.
There are many treatments for epilepsy including surgery, VNS (Vagus Nerve Stimulation) implants, among others, but epilepsy medications, commonly called Antiepileptic Drugs (AEDs) are the most common forms of treatment for people diagnosed with epilepsy. While they do not “cure” epilepsy, they help to reduce the number of seizures that a person has, and, in essence, “control” the condition.
According to the Epilepsy Foundation, AEDs work in the following ways:
Some medicines work on the brain cells, by acting on the way brain chemicals move in and out of the cells.
Some other medicines alter the way neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the nervous system that influence mood, muscle movement, and others) stimulate or excite a person or slow down the way information is sent from one area of the brain cells to another area.
By changing the way the brain cells work and/or react, seizure medicines can help in reducing or stopping seizures, although they might not be able to stop the main cause of the seizures.
Medications are prescribed based on a person’s seizure pattern and seizure history. While some people may still have seizures on medication, if the doctor has deemed the prescribed medication fit for you, it is important to remember to take them.
While it is important to take epilepsy medications, it is equally important to take them on schedule, as prescribed by your doctor. Taking doses late or missing them altogether might negatively impact their effectiveness because the brain needs to have a constant level of seizure medication to prevent seizures from happening. If the amount of seizure medication in the brain is too low due to taking a medication late, then you’ll be at a greater risk of having seizures.
If you, however, miss a dose of your seizure medication, don’t panic. You should not take a double dose next time it is due. You can take the forgotten dose as soon as you remember, for daily medications, or within 6 hours after the first dose was due, for medications to be taken twice a day. These are general instructions for dealing with forgotten doses. However, you should always check directly with your doctor or pharmacist on how you should deal with forgotten doses.
Taking antiepileptic medications is important, and it is also important to take them when due. Medications can be missed due to reasons such as forgetfulness, side effects, affordability, dose complexity, among others. If you have any trouble taking your medications, be honest and open up to your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist to discuss these reasons with them, and they might be able to help you with a workaround.