"I Accidentally Took My Seizure Medication Twice - What Do I Need to Do?"

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When it comes to taking medication, one of the most common mistakes people make is to take a double dose. For some medicines, it’s not an issue – but for others, taking too much medication can have serious consequences. In this article, we’ll explain what might happen if you take your seizure medication twice.

Seizures vs. Epilepsy

First of all, let’s clarify what seizures are and what the condition of epilepsy is. There are several different types of seizures and they can happen for many reasons. A seizure is usually a single occurrence, whereas epilepsy is a neurological condition that’s defined by two or more unprovoked seizures.

Seizures are not always due to epilepsy, and the treatment that will be given depends on the cause of the seizures and your medical history. The recommended treatment for seizures that are not epileptic is usually psychotherapy or cognitive behavioural therapy.

What is Seizure Medication?

People with epilepsy often have fewer seizures, or stop having them completely with the proper treatment. Treatments include medicines called anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs). They’re the most commonly used treatment for epilepsy and have been shown to help control seizures in around 7 out of 10 people.

ASM (Anti-Seizure Medication) doesn’t stop a seizure once one has started and it won’t cure your epilepsy. It’s a preventative medication that must be taken every day to try and stop seizures from happening.

The way this type of medication works is not completely understood, but it’s thought to reduce the excessive electrical activity in your brain that is causing the seizures.

For most seizure medications, it’s not important what time of day you take them, only that you try to take them at the same time every day.

If you forget to take a dose on a rare occasion, it’s unlikely to lead to a seizure. If you generally take your ASM once a day, simply take the forgotten dose when you remember. If you take your medication twice a day, take the forgotten dose within six hours after it was due, if you remember in time. Otherwise, miss the dose and just take your next dose at the normal time.

You should never double the dose intentionally to try and make up for the dose you missed. Taking too large a dose could cause side effects – which we’ll get into shortly.

Different Types of Epilepsy Medication Available in the UK

Several different AEDs might be prescribed to a person that’s experiencing seizures and has been diagnosed with epilepsy. They include:

  • Topiramate
  • Levetiracetam
  • Lamotrigine
  • Carbamazepine
  • Sodium valproate

Which one works best for you will depend on several factors such as your age, the type of seizures you’re experiencing, and whether you’re planning to have a baby (some AEDs can be harmful to an unborn baby).

If your doctor prescribes AEDs, don’t be afraid to ask about the different options available to you and which treatment might be more suitable.

How to Take Your Seizure Medication

You can take seizure medication in several different forms, for example, capsules, syrups, liquids, and tablets. You’ll usually need to take the medicine every day.

Your epilepsy specialist will typically start you on a low dose and increase the dose gradually until it stops your seizures. The first medicine that you take might not have any effect. In this case, your doctor will probably recommend that you try another type of AED.

You must follow any advice on dosage your doctor gives you. They will tell you how much to take. Don’t be tempted to stop taking an AED suddenly as this could cause you to have a seizure.

If you’ve not experienced a seizure for several years, speak to your doctor about stopping the medication. They will advise you whether it’s safe to do so. However, it will be a case of reducing the dosage over some time.

You shouldn’t take any other medication when taking AEDs and that includes complementary medicines and over-the-counter medicines. If you want to take any of these, speak to your GP first, as other medicines can affect the effectiveness of your AED.

What Will Happen if You Take Your AED Medication Twice by Mistake?

Taking too much of your AED medication can lead to symptoms such as:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Headaches or feeling dizzy
  • Breathing problems
  • Feeling or being sick
  • Passing out
  • Feeling confused

If you think you’ve taken too much of your seizure medication, call 111 or visit 111.nhs.uk. You might be advised to go to your local A&E immediately. If so, take the medication you’ve taken too much of with you, together with any other medication you might be taking.

Do AEDs Come With Any Side Effects?

When you first start ASM (anti-seizure medication) treatment, you may experience some side effects. You might experience them soon after the treatment starts and then they pass in a short space of time. Alternatively, you might not experience any side effects for several weeks.

The side effects you might experience depend on the AED you’re taking, but commonly include:

  • Headaches
  • Agitation
  • A lack of energy
  • Unwanted hair growth or hair loss
  • Uncontrollable shaking
  • Rashes
  • Swollen gums

There are also some more serious side effects, but these depend on the medication and will be listed in the medications patient leaflet. You can also ask your GP to explain any side effects of any medication you’re taking.

Tips for Managing Your Epilepsy Medication

  • Ask your GP or pharmacist for very clear dosage instructions
  • Use an alarm on your phone or an app to remind you to take your medication
  • If you’re taking lots of different medicines, use a dosette box as this will show you what pills to take and when to take them
  • Once your medication and dosage have been established, consider talking to your GP about getting a repeat prescription or enough medicine to last a few months
  • Register for your GPs online service as this will allow you to order your repeat prescriptions online
  • Consider giving someone you trust (a carer or partner) permission to order prescriptions on your behalf
  • In the UK, you could ask your GP for a form to apply for a medical exemption certificate as this means you’ll get your prescription medicines free of charge
Written by Natasha Edwards