About Epilepsy

According to the Epilepsy Society, epilepsy affects at least 300,000 people in the UK - 60,000 of these people are children under the age of 16. Epilepsy affects 1 in every 100 children.
It is the most common serious neurological condition in the world and can affect anyone at any time in their life - it has no respect for age, sex, race or social class.
Seizures tend to develop in childhood or by late adolescence, but the likelihood of developing epilepsy rises again after the age of 65.
One in twenty people will have a single seizure sometime in their life.

Anticonvulsant Medication & Side Effects
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Anticonvulsant Medication & Possible Side Effects

The following medication used for the treatment of epilepsy in children is listed by generic name with the brand name in brackets.

Disclaimer: The Daisy Garland makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of information on its website but cannot be held responsible for any actions taken based on this information.

Acetazolamide (Diamox)

Used to enhance certain other anti-epileptic drugs may also be used for menstrual related seizures and certain episodic disorders.

Possible side effects incl.

Weight loss, drowsiness, lack of appetite, pins and needles in hands and feet, depression, joint pains, thirst, increased urine output, headache, fatigue, irritability and dizziness.

Carbamazepine (Tegretol, Tegretol Retard)

Effective against generalised tonic-clonic and partial seizures. May worsen myoclonic and absence seizures. Ineffective against absences.

Possible side effects incl.

Blurred vision, double vision, unsteadiness and nausea may occur initially or if the dose it too high. Skin rash if allergic to carbamazepine. Dizziness and headaches.

Clobazam (Frisium)

Effective against generalised tonic-clonic and partial seizures, but tolerance develops in about one third of children.

Possible side effects incl.

Irritability, fatigue and depression. Drowsiness may occur although this medication is less sedating than clonazepam or diazepam.

Clonazepam (Rivotril)

Effective against absences, generalised tonic-clonic and partial seizures, myoclonic seizures, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, infantile spasms and status epilepticus.

Possible side effects incl.

Sedation and drowsiness are fairly common although these may wear off and tolerance (decline in effectiveness with time) tends to develop. Fatigue, aggression and overactive restlessness. Increased respiratory tract secretions.

Diazepam (Stesolid, Diazepam Rectubes)

For emergency use only in status epilepticus.

Possible side effects incl.

Blurred vision, vertigo, amnesia, drowsiness and unsteadiness.

Ethosuximide (Emeside, Zarontin)

Only effective against generalised absences.

Possible side effects incl.

Drowsiness, nausea, headache.

Gabapentin (Neurontin)

Recommended for partial seizures, where previous treatment has been ineffective. May worsen myoclonic and/or absence seizures.

Possible side effects incl.

Dizziness, headache, double vision, fatigue, drowsiness, unsteadiness and shaky movements.

Lacosamide (Vimpat)

Add-on therapy for focal seizures with or without secondary generalisation.

Possible side effects incl.

Nausea, vomiting, constipation, wind, dizziness, headache, impaired coordination, drowsiness, tremor, depression, fatigue, abnormal walking, blurred vision, abnormal eye movements, and itching.

Lamotrigine (Lamictal)

Effective against Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, absence, partial and generalised tonic-clonic seizures.


Possible side effects incl.

Skin rash particularly if rapid dose increase, if allergic to lamotrigine. Double vision, dizziness, drowsiness, headache and flu-like symptoms, if the dose is too high. Possibly insomnia.

Levetiracetam (Keppra)

Currently not licensed for children under 16 years; refractory partial seizures.

Possible side effects incl.

Dizziness, nausea, behaviour change and sedation.


Infantile spasms.

Possible side effects incl.

Shaky movements, dependence, loss of memory, confusion, muscle weakness.

Oxcarbazepine (Trileptal)

Generalised and partial seizures.

Possible side effects incl.

Skin rash if allergic to oxcarbazepine. Headache, nausea, double vision, unsteadiness and confusion.

Perampanel (Fycompa)

Add-on therapy for focal seizures with or without secondary generalisation.

Possible side effects incl.

Dizziness, sleepiness, loss of or increased appetite, aggression, anger, anxiety, confusion, unsteadiness, speech difficulties, balance disorder, irritability, blurred or double vision, vertigo, nausea, back pain, walking difficulty, fatigue, weight gain, and risk of falling. Report severe reactions, such as a skin rash, to your doctor.


Effective against generalised partial and tonic-clonic seizures. Neonatal seizures and status epilepticus.

Possible side effects incl.

Drowsiness may occur initially, sedation and slowing of mental performance may persist. Listlessness, depression, fatigue, rash, tiredness, insomnia and irritability. Hyperactivity, aggression and subtle impairment of mood, memory and learning capacity.

Phenytoin (Epanutin)

Effective against partial and generalised tonic-clonic seizures. Status epilepticus. Blood testing is essential when using phenytoin as the relationship between dose and blood level is complex.

Possible side effects incl.

Skin rash if allergic to phenytoin. Unsteadiness, drowsiness and slurred speech may occur if too high a dose is used. Coarsening of facial features, overgrowth of gums, acne and growth of excess hair may be problems with prolonged therapy, as can some anaemias (treated with folic acid). Unsteady gait, shaky movements, sedation and rapid involuntary movement of the eye.

Primidone (Mysoline)

Effective against partial and generalised tonic-clonic seizures.

Possible side effects incl.

Tiredness, depression, listlessness, fatigue, psychosis, overactive restlessness and irritability.

Sodium Valproate (Epilim, Epilim Chrono)

Effective against absences and generalised tonic-clonic and partial seizures.

Possible side effects incl.

Weight gain may occur with increased appetite. Hair loss occurs in some people but this is not usually severe and is usually reversible if the dosage is reduced. Gastric problems, hyperactivity and behaviour problems. Liver damage due to sodium valproate is very uncommon. The use of sodium valproate has been associated with increased incidence of polycystic ovaries and menstrual irregularities but needs to be evaluated further. Shaky movements and drowsiness are infrequent side effects.

NB Some liquid versions of Sodium Valporate contain colourings that may cause insomnia. We felt this worth mentioning as it's a topic which has been brought to the attention of The Daisy Garland by a number of families we support whose children became restless and unable to sleep. This was remedied by a change in brand. If you have any concerns at all about food colourings/Sodium Valporate please discuss with your Neurologist. 


This medicine can seriously harm an unborn baby. Always use effective contraception during treatment. If you are thinking about becoming pregnant, or you become pregnant, talk to your doctor straightaway.


Improves the effectiveness of many other anticonvulsants and is indicated as an adjunctive therapy with sodium valproate and clobazam for treating severe myoclonic epilepsy in infancy (SMEI, also know as Dravet's syndrome).

Possible side effects incl.

Nausea and vomiting are particularly noted when used in combination with sodium valproate.

Tiagabine (Gabitril)

May make myoclonic seizures worse. Recommended for partial seizures when previous treatment has been ineffective.

Possible side effects incl.

Tremor, concentration difficulties, dizziness, anxiety, depression, fatigue, agitation and jerkiness of limbs.

Topiramate (Topamax)

Effective against severe myoclonic epilepsy in infancy. For children over 2 years of age. Recommended in partial and generalised seizures.


Possible side effects incl.

Pins and needles in hands and feet and loss of weight, headache, drowsiness. Increased risk of kidney stones. Slowing of mental performance and language may occur but minimised if dose started low and increased slowly. Cases of eye reactions have rarely been associated with topiramate occurring within one month of commencement of treatment.

Vigabatrin (Sabril)

First line for infantile spasms. May worsen absences and myoclonic seizures. May be considered for resistant partial seizures if visual fields can be monitored.

Possible side effects incl.

Behaviour and mood changes, drowsiness, nausea. Visual field defects have been reported in one in three adults taking this drug in the long term. While taking vigabatrin visual fields should be measured every six months. Psychotic reactions have been reported.

Zonisamide (Zonegran)

Used together with other anticonvulsant medications to treat partial seizures.

Possible side effects incl.

Skin rash, breathing difficulties, swelling of face, lips, tongue or throat, anxiety, behaviour changes, insomnia, drowsiness, panic attacks, hyperactivity, depression. Also rapid heart rate, flu symptoms, loss of appetite, loss of balance or co-ordination and dizziness.

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