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What is an Anticonvulsant?

By Harriette Halepis
Updated May 17, 2024
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An anticonvulsant is a type of medication that is usually used to treat epileptic individuals. Due to recent research, anticonvulsants are now being prescribed to individuals who suffer from bipolar disorder as well. The main function of an anticonvulsant is to stop the irregular spread of neurons inside of the brain. Since neurons create electrochemical impulses, which generate different moods and physical reactions, an overabundance of neurons results in mixed emotions, crossed signals, and either seizure or anxiety.

There are many different types of anticonvulsants on the market. Some of these drug categories include barbiturates, bromides, carbomates, and many others. Included in each drug category are numerous brand names such as Primidone™ and Valpromide™. None of these drugs can be acquired without a medical prescription.

Controversy surrounding the ingestion of anticonvulsant drugs by pregnant women has sparked a vast amount of global debate. Recent research has shown that an unborn child may suffer birth defects due to anticonvulsant medication. This poses a large problem relating to epileptic women and pregnancy. Epileptic women who wish to have children should consult with a medical doctor in order to ensure careful monitoring during pregnancy.

Most physicians prefer to use one type of drug to control epilepsy. In fact, mixing too many anticonvulsant drugs is never a good idea. While patients may have to try different drugs in order to find the right one, a trained medical doctor will hardly ever prescribe more than one epileptic medication.

Presently, there is no cure for epilepsy, though many modern medications effectively keep epileptic attacks under control. By combining this type of medication with proper diet and exercise, most epileptic patients are able to live normal lives. However, there are some side effects associated with modern anticonvulsants that should be noted by all users.

Irritability, nausea, imbalance, and hyperactivity are common side effects. In some instances, anticonvulsants can have egative impact on blood cells. When this type of disturbance occurs, symptoms such as sore throat, mouth ulcers, and bruising may occur. If any of these symptoms surface, a medical doctor should be contacted immediately.

Blood levels should be monitored on a regular basis in order to ensure that the proper dosage of an anticonvulsant drug has been prescribed. These blood level tests allow doctors to alter dosage amounts accordingly. While most modern anticonvulsants are safe, the aforementioned side effects should be taken into consideration. As with any other medication, allergic reactions are also possible when taking any type of anticonvulsant.

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