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Levetiracetam for Epilepsy
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Why It Is Used
Levetiracetam may be used to help control partial seizures in adults.
Levetiracetam may also be used alone or in combination with other epilepsy drugs to treat seizures that affect the entire brain (generalized) in adults. Or it may be used alone or in combination with other epilepsy medicines in children who have Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or absence seizures.
How Well It Works
Levetiracetam may help control seizures in children who have Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and absence seizures.1
Levetiracetam, when taken alone, may also work to control partial and generalized seizures.1
Levetiracetam usually causes only mild side effects. The most common ones are:
- Dizziness and unsteadiness.
- Mild agitation, anxiety, or depression.
Unlike many of the antiepileptic medicines, levetiracetam is not likely to cause an adverse reaction when used at the same time as other medicines.
In rare cases, levetiracetam may cause a serious skin rash. Contact your doctor if you develop a rash while taking levetiracetam.
FDA Advisory. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an advisory on antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) and the risk of suicide. Talk to your doctor about these possible side effects and the warning signs of suicide in adults and in children and teens.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
It may take time and careful, controlled adjustments by you and your doctor to find the combination, schedule, and dosing of medicine to best manage your epilepsy. The goal is to prevent seizures while causing as few side effects as possible. After you and your doctor figure out the program that works best for you, make sure to follow your program exactly as prescribed.
- Drug interactions. Levetiracetam may be a good choice if you are taking medicines for other conditions, because it does not interact with other medicines. It is also a good choice if you take birth control pills, because it will not make the pills any less effective.
- Risk of birth defects. All medicines for epilepsy have some risk of birth defects. But the risk of birth defects needs to be carefully compared to other risks to the baby if the mother stops taking her epilepsy medicine. If you are thinking about becoming pregnant, be sure to plan ahead and talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks of taking epilepsy medicine during your pregnancy. It you are already pregnant, it is not too late. The best thing to do is talk to your doctor about your pregnancy before you make any changes to the medicines you are taking.
- Other concerns. For some people, levetiracetam may produce side effects or carry risks that are not yet fully known. Report any unexpected side effects or problems to your doctor.
Last Revised: August 28, 2013
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