Valproate for Epilepsy
Valproate is available in capsules, tablets, and syrups that you take by mouth. It also comes in a sprinkle form that is a good choice for children. It can also be given as a shot.
How It Works
It is not clear how valproate prevents seizures. But it may prevent them by increasing levels of a certain chemical in the brain.
Why It Is Used
Valproate is a drug of choice for:
How Well It Works
Valproate prevents seizures in most people who use it to control complex partial seizures and absence seizures. It is also effective against generalized tonic-clonic seizures, myoclonic seizures, and atonic seizures.1
Common side effects of valproate include:
These side effects may increase as the dosage needed to control seizures increases. Because valproate levels in the body tend to go up and down, some side effects may vary from day to day or even within a single day. Nausea and stomach problems usually go away after the body adjusts to the drug. Hair loss, weight gain, and tremors often come with long-term use of the drug.
Skin rash, a very common side effect of antiepileptic drugs, is less common with valproate. Valproate tends to have less effect on your thinking, memory, or learning processes than other antiepileptic drugs (as long as the drug levels in your bloodstream do not become too high).
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning on antiepileptic medicines and the risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts. The FDA does not recommend that people stop using these medicines. Instead, people who take antiepileptic medicine should be watched closely for warning signs of suicide. People who take antiepileptic medicine and who are worried about this side effect should talk to a doctor.
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.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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