Anticonvulsant drugs are used to control seizures in people with epilepsy. Epilepsy is not a single disease, it's a set of symptoms that may have different causes in different people. The common thread is an imbalance in the brain's electrical activity. This imbalance causes seizures, that may affect part or all of the body and may or may not cause a loss of consciousness. Anticonvulsant drugs act on the brain to reduce the frequency and severity of seizures.

Some cases of epilepsy are brought on by head injuries, brain tumors or infections, or metabolic problems such as low blood sugar. But in some people with epilepsy, the cause is not clear.

Anticonvulsant drugs are an important part of the treatment program for epilepsy. Different kinds of drugs may be prescribed for different types of seizures. In addition to taking medicine, patients with epilepsy should get enough rest, avoid stress, and practice good health habits.

Some physicians believe that giving the drugs to children with epilepsy may prevent the condition from getting worse in later life. However, others say the effects are the same, whether treatment is started early or later in life. Determining when treatment begins depends on the physician and his assessment of the patient's symptoms.

Physicians may also prescribe certain anticonvulsant drugs for other conditions, including bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness) and migraine headaches

Anticonvulsant drugs include such medicines as carbamazepine (Tegretol), phenytoin (Dilantin), and valproic acid (Depakote, Depakene).


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