Epilepsy is a condition of the brain that leads to recurrent, unprovoked seizures. 70 to 80% of the patients will respond to medication, and there are many options since the number of drugs available to treat epilepsy has doubled in the last decade.
The problem is, for some people, the side effects of certain drugs aren't worth it. But now, the American Academy of Neurology and the American Epilepsy Society are releasing new guidelines that evaluate all the drugs and possible side effects to help patients find the right drug for them and lead a life free of seizures and with fewer side effects.
Doctors say the guidelines should be especially helpful for elderly patients taking lots of different medications, and also for women of child-bearing age.
"The newer drugs are actually an improvement over the old, in that the majority of them, not all, but the majority of them do not cause an interaction with the oral contraceptive pill. Therefore, women can take oral contraception and not have to worry about unplanned pregnancy," says Dr. Jacqueline French, Co-Director of Penn Epilepsy Center.
The Epilepsy Foundation has a motto that calls for no seizures and no side effects, and Dr. French says that's exactly what these new guidelines are working toward.