Levetiracetam is a prescription used alone or with other medications to control seizures, for primary generalized tonic-clonic seizures, or myoclonic seizures.
A seizure is an uncontrolled electrical disturbance in the brain. It may cause changes in your behavior, feelings, or movements, and in levels of consciousness. You have epilepsy if you have had two or more seizures or a tendency to have recurrent seizures. This type of condition is more common than you might think. It can happen after a stroke, an infection such as meningitis, or a closed head injury. Many types of seizures can range in severity. The types may vary by where and how they begin in the brain. Most seizures may last from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. A seizure that takes longer than 5 minutes is already an emergency. The signs and symptoms of this condition may range from mild to severe. It includes:
- A staring spell
- Temporary confusion
- Loss of consciousness or awareness
- Uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs
- Cognitive or emotional symptoms such as anxiety, fear, or déjà vu
The tonic-clonic seizure has a combined characteristic; tonic means stiffening and clonic means rhythmical jerking. This type of seizure can start on one or both sides of the brain. When they start on both sides of the brain, they are called generalized motor seizures. When they start on one side of the brain and spread to affect both sides is called focal to a bilateral tonic-clonic seizure.
Myoclonic seizures are brief and shock-like jerks of a muscle or a group of muscles. Usually, they don’t last more than a second or two. There can but just one but sometimes many will occur within a short time.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already approved this medication. Levetiracetamcomes as a tablet for oral use. Each is available in the dosage strengths of 250 mg, 500 mg, 750 mg, and 1000 mg.
How does Levetiracetam work?
Levetiracetam stabilizes electrical activity in the brain. The brain and nerves are made up of many nerve cells. These cells communicate with each other through electrical signals. For them to function well, these signals should be sensibly controlled for the brain and nerves. It becomes over-stimulated when unusually rapid and repetitive electrical signals are released in the brain. There is also a normal function disturbed.
This medication prevents the excessive electrical activity in the brain. This is thought to prevent sodium from entering nerve cells when they begin to fire rapid and repetitive electrical signals. A build-up of sodium in the nerve cells is needed for the electrical signal to build-up. It also passes on to the other nerve cells.
How to use Levetiracetam?
The recommended dosage is based on your medical condition, age, and response to the treatment. Your doctor may direct you to start at a low dose and eventually increase it to prevent side effects. It may take several weeks to reach the best dose for you. You should take the right dose, not more or less. This medication works best when the amount of drugs in your body is at a constant level. Therefore, remember to take it at the same time and in the same way each day. Do not suddenly stop taking this medication without the consent of your doctor. It may cause another complication or may worsen your current condition. Withdrawal from this product can be severe and include seizures and rarely death. Let your doctor know right away if you have withdrawal. For the best benefit from this product, take it regularly.
Levetiracetam is to be taken by mouth usually twice a day or as directed by your doctor. You may take each dose with or without a meal. Swallow the tablet as a whole with a full glass of water. Do not break, chew, or crush it. Drink plenty of fluids while having this medication. Doing so may lessen the risk of certain side effects. If you missed a dose, take it as soon as you remember it. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to make up for the missed dose. Let your doctor know if your condition does not improve or if it gets worse.
What are the side effects of Levetiracetam?
Common side effects:
- Decreased appetite
- Nasal congestion
- Deep or fast breathing with dizziness
- Dry mouth
- Irregular heartbeat
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle aches and pains
- Painful or difficult urination
- Unusual drowsiness
- Unusual tiredness or weakness
Let your doctor know if these side effects occur:
- dizziness or light-headedness
- mood or mental changes
- feeling sad or empty
- double vision
- clumsiness or unsteadiness
- problems with memory
- the tightness of the chest
- trembling or shaking of the hands or feet
- trouble concentrating
- unsteadiness, trembling, or other problems with muscle control or coordination
Warnings and Precautions
- This medicine may lessen your ability to drive safely. Do not drive until you know how this medication affects you and you are sure it won’t affect your performance.
- This medicine is not recommended for children under one month of age. As there is insufficient information about its safety and effectiveness in this age group.
- Levetiracetam should not be used if you are allergic to one or any of its ingredients. Please inform your doctor if you have previously experienced such an allergy.
- Some medications should not be used during breastfeeding or pregnancy. On the other hand, other prescriptions may be safely used in breastfeeding or pregnancy. Providing the benefits to the mother outweigh the risks to the unborn baby. Before using any medicine, always inform your doctor if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy.
- Let your doctor know if you have any medical history especially of kidney disease or mental/mood disorders.
- While having Levetiracetam, limit alcoholic beverages.
- Tell your doctor if you are taking any medications including herbal supplements or vitamins.
- Keep Levetiracetam far from the direct heat or light, far from the reach of children as well.