Centers of Excellence

Medication for epilepsy in children, epilepsy treatment, epilepsy drugs, Phoenix, Arizona

The epilepsy team at Phoenix Children's Hospital includes some of the most respected pediatric epilepsy specialists in the country. The Comprehensive Pediatric Epilepsy Program is a key component of the Barrow Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, a premier program dedicated to the evaluation and treatment of neurological disorders in children and adolescents. Kids from across the country visit us for our world-class program, which includes the epilepsy treatment option – anti-epileptic medications.



How anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) are selected

Many types of medications are available to treat seizures. Their success rates are promising. Among children with epilepsy, 80% achieve seizure control after taking one or more AEDs. Medications are selected based on factors such as:

  • Seizure type
  • Epilepsy syndrome
  • Expected effectiveness
  • Possible adverse effects
  • Pharmacologic profile & interactions
  • Available formulations
  • Cost

How medications are administered

At home, medications are usually taken by mouth (as capsules, tablets, sprinkles, or syrup), but some can be given rectally.

It is important to give your child his/her medication on time and as prescribed. Children metabolize the medication in their bodies differently, so your child’s neurologist may make adjustments (schedule and dosage)  to best control theirseizures.

If your child is in the hospital with seizures, medication by injection or intravenous (IV) may be used.

Side effects of epilepsy drugs

At higher dosages, epilepsy medications are more likely to cause effects such as sleepiness, slurred speech, or unsteadiness. Sometimes, the side effects are not seen at first but become more apparent over time.

Other side effects of epilepsy drugs can include:

  • weight gain
  • hyperactivity
  • nausea
  • rash
  • sleep problems
  • irritability or mood changes
  • extra hair growth on the body
  • double vision

Some children have few or no side effects with epilepsy medications. If your child does start to experience any of these symptoms, please discuss them with the neurologist.

Medication management and monitoring

To monitor the effectiveness of medications, your child will need ongoing care and check-ups with their neurologist. Additionally, some tests may be ordered such as:

  • blood tests
  • urine tests
  • EEGs (a type of brain scan)

The tests are designed to measure the levels of medication in your child's bloodstream, the medication's effects on his or her brain waves, and other factors. Your child's neurologist will discuss with you which types of tests are needed and how often they will need to be performed.

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