Strategies and tools for taking medication
For anti-seizure medication (ASM) to work at its best, it needs to be taken regularly at around the same time or times each day.
However, it is not uncommon for people to forget to take medication or accidentally miss a dose. Some people with epilepsy have memory problems related to their epilepsy which can make remembering to take medication difficult. Some may also take too much medication if they forget that they have already taken a dose.
For most people, missing one dose on a rare occasion is unlikely to cause a seizure. If you miss a dose, or take too much medication, the patient information leaflet may tell you what to do. In general, if a dose is missed and the ASM is usually taken:
- once a day – take the forgotten dose as soon as you remember it; or
- twice a day – take the forgotten dose if you remember within six hours after it was due. Otherwise don’t take the forgotten dose and just take the next dose at the due time.
It is important that if you miss a dose you do not take twice as much at the next dose time. Taking a larger dose than normal could cause side effects.
If you find that you regularly forget your medication there are memory aids and techniques that might help.
I find it difficult to take my ASM. Are different forms are available?
Your specialist or pharmacist can tell you whether there are different forms for your ASM. Some ASMs come as tablets and capsules, liquids and syrups, sprinkles and granules (which can be added to food), and suppositories. Some ASMs are available as ‘slow release’ forms which release their active ingredient more slowly in your body than non-slow release forms.
For babies, some medication can be dissolved in water. Giving it this way, means you can check that they have taken all of it. You can ask your pharmacist about how medication can be taken.
It's difficult to get to the pharmacy to collect my medication, or to my GP for a repeat prescription. What might help me?
Some surgeries and pharmacies offer services that might help, such as repeat prescriptions and home deliveries.
I have picked up my prescription but it looks different from normal. What should I do?
If your medication looks different – either the packaging or the medication itself – you may have been given a different version. This sometimes happens if your prescription only has the generic name of the drug. If this happens you can ask your pharmacist whether they are able to replace it with your usual version. For this reason it is a good idea to check your medication before leaving the pharmacy. A pharmacist may not be able to change your medication if you have left the pharmacy and then try and return it.
We have produced a letter about being prescribed the same version of your medication (unless a change is advised for medical reasons). You can give this letter to your GP or specialist.
Should I take another dose if I'm sick?
If you have been sick or have diarrhoea this can affect how well your medication will work. Whether you should take the dose of medication again depends on how soon after taking your medication you were sick.
General guidelines are:
if you are sick within one hour of taking medication take another dose; or
if you are sick more than one hour after taking medication wait until your next dose is due before taking it.
The patient information leaflet (PIL) for your medication may have more information or you could talk to your pharmacist about what to do.
Information updated: February 2022
How doctors monitor epilepsy including therapeutic drug monitoring which checks the effectiveness of drugs taken by people with epilepsy.
If someone has not had a seizure for two or more years then they may think about withdrawing (coming off) their ASM.
Managing your treatment is an important part of managing your epilepsy, and seeing whether your medication is working. This might include having a care plan, including a treatment plan.