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Epilepsy: The Top Five Drugs

Wednesday, 29 Sep 2010 11:46 AM

Epilepsy is a common chronic neurological disorder characterized by recurrent, unprovoked seizures. These seizures are transient signs and/or symptoms of abnormal, excessive, or synchronous neuronal activity in the brain. A majority of epileptic seizures are controlled by drug therapy, particularly using anticonvulsant drugs. The type of treatment prescribed depends on several factors including the frequency and severity of the seizure and the person's age, overall health, and medical history.
Anti-epileptic drugs are also called "anti-convulsants" since they prevent convulsions. Some prefer to call them anti-epileptics because not all forms of epilepsy involve convulsions. Many drugs are available to treat epilepsy. Several of them have been released only recently.

The five most important drugs used to treat epilepsy include:
1. Dilantin or Phenytek
2. Phenobarbital

3. Tegretol or Carbatrol,

4. Mysoline

5. Zarontin
Other Drugs
Other drugs include: Depakene, Depakote, Depakote ER, Valium, and similar tranquilizers such as Tranxene and Klonopin. Newer drugs to treat epilepsy include: Felbatol, Gabitril, Keppra, Lamictal, Lyrica, Neurontin, Topamzx, Trileptal, and Zonegran.
It is preferable to stick to one drug, since there is a risk of interaction between anti-epileptic drugs. Indeed, some neurologists say that any patient taking more than one such drug is being mismanaged.
Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic diet has received much attention lately. It is effective for treating certain types of epilepsy. It is used most frequently in children with seizures that have not responded to medical therapy. The diet is usually started at the hospital. If successful, it is often maintained for two to three years.
New Treatment
Another relatively new treatment involves electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve. This treatment requires minor surgery to implant a stimulator. It is about the size of a silver dollar. The stimulator is placed under the skin in the upper chest, like a pacemaker. The treatment appears to be effective for seizures that do not respond well to medications alone.
Treatment Centers
Some top treatment centers for epilepsy are:
  1. Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Md.
  2. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.
  3. Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Mass.
  4. Cleveland Clinic

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