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Anticonvulsants: what you need to know?

Currently, there are several dozen varieties of anti seizure medication over the counter that can successfully treat epilepsy. And, despite this, the search, development and research of new anticonvulsants not only do not stop, but also increase momentum, which leads to the regular appearance of new antiepileptic drugs on the market.

The reasons for such an active search are the heterogeneity of epilepsy as a disease, the presence of many variants of its course, as well as the different sensitivity of patients to the action of different drugs.

Mechanism of action of anticonvulsants

The main manifestation of epilepsy is an epileptic seizure or an attack of convulsions, which differ in different forms of the disease in severity, localization, frequency, duration and consequences. The cause of seizures is the presence in the patient’s brain of a focus of convulsive activity or an epileptic focus, consisting of nerve cells with increased electrical activity.

The impact on this focus, its stabilization and reduction in the number of spontaneous electrical discharges that cause the development of seizures is the main goal of the action of anticonvulsants.

Different drugs achieve this goal through different mechanisms. Some affect metabolism, gamma-aminobutyric acid receptors, increasing the level of the main inhibitory neurotransmitter. Others change the permeability of the neuron membrane for various ions (potassium, calcium, potassium), reducing their convulsive activity. Other drugs work by reducing the amount of glutamate, which has an excitatory effect on nerve cells, or by blocking glutamate receptors, which inhibits the spread of excitation from the epileptic focus to other brain structures.

Some anticonvulsants combine several mechanisms of action.

How to take anticonvulsants?

First, you need to understand the mechanism of work of antiepileptic drugs. In simple words, these drugs normalize the abnormal electrical activity of the brain, preventing the occurrence of epileptic seizures. The effectiveness of drugs depends on their concentration in the blood, so they should be taken daily.

To maintain a constant therapeutic effect, in most cases, the drugs should be taken twice a day:

  • the first appointment – in the morning;
  • the second appointment is in the evening.

There are drugs or certain cases where the doctor may recommend taking the medicine once a day.

Side effects of antiepileptic drugs and how to deal with them

Side effects are reversible with dosage adjustments or drug changes. However, it should be remembered that there is no guarantee that the next drug will not have side effects, as well as the certainty that it will control seizures.

There are several drugs with irreversible side effects, but they are used only in cases of severe epilepsy in children and adults in the hospital setting, when the side effects from the drugs will cause less harm to health than epileptic seizures.

Therefore, it is worth taking very seriously the choice of this type of drugs, because a lot depends on the choice of not only the drugs themselves, but also the pharmacy. It is worth choosing only licensed pharmacies that cooperate with official suppliers.

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