Common Side Effects of Anticonvulsant Medications and How to Manage Them?

Have you recently begun taking anticonvulsants and experienced medication side effects? The side effects of anticonvulsant drugs are very common if research data is to be believed; almost 60% of people develop at least one side effect. This blog will help you know about anticonvulsants or seizure medication side effects.

Anticonvulsants are a class of medications that act through different mechanisms to control seizures. Most of the time, the effects are mild and don’t last long. Often these side effects can be treated by adjusting how an individual takes it.

What are anticonvulsant side effects?

Medication side effects are kind of unwanted effects of a medicine. With anticonvulsants, also known as antiepileptic drugs or antiseizure meds, your seizure gets under control, but they could also give rise to unpleasant feelings and physical symptoms.

There are different types of seizure meds. Each of them works in different ways and has different side effects. To learn about the specific side effects of epilepsy medications, speak to your doctor. Some commonly reported side effects of the medications include nausea, headaches, agitation, hair loss, weight gain, rashes, swollen gums, mood changes, hypersensitivity, shaking and tremors, tiredness, and drowsiness.

How long do anticonvulsant side effects stay? 

Most of the time, antiseizure medication side effects resolve independently in a few weeks or months. Your body might need to adjust to the medicine, and you will begin to feel like yourself again after some time. There are some chronic, long-lasting side effects that you may notice over time. It is important to have a close eye on them.

Serious seizure side effects

Most side effects of using antiseizure drugs are unpleasant and irritating and will resolve independently. However, certain epilepsy drug side effects could be serious. If you develop a rash somewhere on your body (usually within a couple of weeks of starting a new antiepileptic medicine, it could indicate an allergic reaction. If you continue to take the medicine, it may lead to serious health complications. Speak to your doctor immediately if you develop a rash. There is also a small risk of kidney damage associated with some anticonvulsant drugs. Your doctor will perform blood tests to ensure there are not causing any problems.

Do anticonvulsants affect cognitive functions?

Sometimes the way anticonvulsant medicines stop seizures also can affect how the brain works in other ways. Since these medications lower the excited nerve cells in the brain, they can also affect normal activity. Cognitive issues with thinking, paying attention, remembering concentrating, finding appropriate words, or other symptoms can develop due to side effects of seizure medicines. Certain antiepileptic medicines may also affect an individual’s energy level, mood, or how fast they think or do tasks. Sometimes, these issues resolve as you get used to the medicine. But other times, they don’t. Be sure to inform your doctor about any problems and how they affect you.

Side effects & quality of life

Most epilepsy medication side effects will not seriously affect your health. All can be inconvenient or unpleasant. Some of these medicines can contribute to weight gain, which can be distressing. Another common side effect of epilepsy drugs is drowsiness. This can cause inconvenience if you’re working in an office, doing school or in college. They may also contribute to hair loss or a loss of sexual desire. Well, not life-threatening, but these side effects can directly impact your quality of life. You should speak to your doctor if you experience them.

Illustration depicting the potential side effects of anticonvulsant medications

Side effects in special population

There are certain situations where it is important to be aware of seizure drug’s side effects:

    • Babies and adolescents: They may not be able to inform their parents about any unpleasant feelings they are having. Extra care should be taken to monitor their behaviour and symptoms.
    • Pregnancy: If you plan to conceive, you should speak to your doctor. This is because many antiseizure medicines may affect the baby’s health.
    • People with learning problems: people dealing with learning issues may also find problems describing side effects.

Side effects are a major deterrent to successful treatment with antiepileptic drugs.

Undoubtedly, the medicine’s side effects are unpleasant. However, it will help if you do not stop taking your medicine unless your doctor advises. The risk of seizures increases when you stop taking epilepsy seizures.

What can your doctor do about anticonvulsant side effects?

If you develop antiseizure meds side effects, your doctor might try the following:

    1. Reducing dosage: Sometimes, side effects develop because of an excessive amount of the medicine in your system.
    2. Changing rhythm: You might develop side effects by taking your antiepileptic medicine once daily. This causes an increase in the medicine in your bloodstream. Your doctor may recommend taking smaller doses spread over the day.
    3. Switching to another drug: Trying a different seizure medicine is helpful. A newer generation of medicines often has fewer side effects.

It can be really helpful to monitor the side effects of the medicine and talk to your doctor about them.

Managing side effects

Although antiepileptic drug side effects can be very unpleasant, they resolve on their own as your body adjusts to the medicine. Rather than discontinuing treatment, speaking to your doctor about the side effects you are experiencing is always wise. Working with your doctor, you can develop a plan to manage them.

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