Many people who are suffering from epilepsy are able to control their seizures through the use of medication. In fact, between 60% and 70% of people have found success using these medications, yet even in those cases when it is possible to control the seizures, the medications can cause side effects which are unwanted and often unpleasant. The goal is always to find a medication that is going to work well to control the seizures, but that will have no side effects. Fortunately, it appears as though some headway is being made in this area according to research that has come from the Australian National University.
What Did the Study Find?
According to the study, about 20% of people in Australia suffer from chronic pain, and a quarter million of people suffer from epilepsy. In Australia, 40% of the epilepsy sufferers are children. Treating pain and epilepsy with different types of drugs has been the typical treatment for a long time. In fact, some of the drugs still being used have been available for close to 70 years. While they knew that the drugs worked, they were not always fully studied to determine how they work, and why they have side effects. With new technology, though, it has become easier to get a better look at this aspect of the drugs.
Through the use of the National Computational Infrastructure at the Australian National University, it has become possible for researchers to take a closer look at what is happening in these drugs. This is due to the simulations, which are quite complex, that can be run with the computer. It allows them to look at the molecular detail within the drugs, and this can provide some insight into why drugs are causing side effects on parts of the body that are undesirable, while still providing the proper effects to the part of the body where the drug is supposed to work.
By gaining a better understanding of why and how this happens, it might eventually be possible to scientists to change the molecular structure of drugs that are already in existence, or to create new drugs that do not have side effects. While scientists are not quite at this stage yet, it does hold quite a bit of promise. Eventually, it might be possible to create drugs that are not going to have those terrible side effects that many of the anti-seizure drugs have today.
Common Types of Side Effects from Epilepsy Drugs
To get a better idea of just why this area of research is so important, you will want to understand a bit more about some of the problematic side effects that come from anti-seizure drugs. Let’s look at some of the more common drugs on the market and their side effects. Some, you will see, may be more problematic than others are.
Ativan (lorazepam) can cause drowsiness, fatigue, poor coordination, and behavior changes. Some of the side effects for Banzel (rufinamide) include attention problems, headaches, loss of appetite, vomiting, irritability, and stomach pain. Depakote (divalproex sodium) can cause stomach problems, issues with liver toxicity, hair loss, weight gain, and tremors. The extended release version of Depakote can also cause headaches, blurred vision, and twitching. Sabril (vigabatrin) can cause anemia, numbness in the extremities, swelling, and vision loss.
These are just some of the anti-seizure drugs and their side effects. You can see just how important it is to find ways to provide these patients with drugs that help to keep the seizures at bay while still eliminating these types of side effects.