|Type of medicine||Anti-epileptic|
|Used for||Epilepsy in children and adults|
|Also called||Keppra®, Matever®|
|Available as||Tablets, oral liquid, and injection|
If you have epilepsy, it means that you have had repeated seizures. A seizure is a short episode of symptoms caused by a burst of abnormal electrical activity in your brain. Different parts of the brain control different parts and functions of your body. Therefore, the symptoms that occur during a seizure depend on where the abnormal burst of electrical activity occurs. Symptoms that may occur during a seizure can affect your muscles, sensations, behaviour, emotions, consciousness, or a combination of these. These seizures can be prevented by suitable anti-epileptic medication.
Levetiracetam works by stabilising the electrical activity of your brain, which prevents the seizures from occurring. It is sometimes used on its own and sometimes alongside other anti-epileptic medication.
Before taking levetiracetam
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you (or your child if you are the carer) start taking levetiracetam it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby, or breast-feeding.
- If you have liver or kidney problems.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to this or to any other medicine.
- If you are taking any other medicines, including those available to buy without a prescription, herbal and complementary medicines.
How to take levetiracetam
- Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. The leaflet will give you more information about the brand of levetiracetam you have been given, and a full list of possible side-effects from taking it.
- Take levetiracetam exactly as your doctor has told you. Your dose will be on the label of your pack. You need to take it regularly.
- When you first start this treatment your doctor will give you a small dose and then gradually increase your dose. This allows your doctor to make sure that you have the dose that helps your condition and avoids any unwanted symptoms.
- You can take levetiracetam before or after meals.
- If you have been given levetiracetam oral liquid, you will be given a graduated syringe to measure out the doses with. Check the syringe carefully to make sure you are getting the correct dose. You can dilute the liquid with water.
- Try to take your doses of levetiracetam at the same times each day - this will help you to avoid missing any of your doses. It is usually taken twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening.
- If you do forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember unless it is nearly time for your next dose, in which case leave out the missed dose. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress.
- When you first start a new treatment for epilepsy there may be a change in the number or type of seizures you experience. Your doctor will advise you about this.
- People with epilepsy must stop driving at first. Your doctor will advise you about when it may be possible for you to resume driving again. This will usually be after a year free of seizures.
- If you drink alcohol, ask your doctor for advice before taking levetiracetam and alcohol. Your doctor may recommended that you do not drink alcohol while you are on this medicine.
- If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable for you to take. This is because some medicines (including herbal medicines such as St John's wort) should not be taken with levetiracetam.
- If you are a woman and want to have a family, make sure you discuss this with your doctor well in advance of becoming pregnant. This is so that you can be given advice from a specialist before you become pregnant. If you become pregnant while you are taking levetiracetam, you must tell your doctor straightaway.
- While you are taking levetiracetam, there is a small risk that you may develop mood changes or distressing feelings, and thoughts about suicide. If this happens, you must tell your doctor straightaway.
- If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking levetiracetam.
- Do not stop taking this medicine unless your doctor tells you to do so. Stopping levetiracetam suddenly can cause problems and your doctor will probably want you to reduce your dose gradually if this is necessary.
Can levetiracetam cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.
|Common levetiracetam side-effects - these affect around 1 in 10 people who take this medicine||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Feeling tired, dizzy or sleepy||If this happens do not drive or use tools or machines|
|Indigestion, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, feeling or being sick, loss of appetite||Stick to simple meals - avoid rich and spicy food|
|Headache, cough, cold-like symptoms||Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable remedy|
|Feeling unsteady or shaky, skin rash, vertigo (a spinning sensation), mood changes, irritability||If any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor for advice|
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store levetiracetam
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
- Do not use the oral liquid after seven months of first opening the bottle.
Important information about all medicines
Further reading & references
- British National Formulary; 62nd Edition (Sep 2011) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
- Manufacturer's PIL, Keppra® 250 mg film-coated tablets; Manufacturer's PIL, Keppra® 250 mg film-coated tablets, UCB Pharma Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated February 2011.
- Manufacturer's PIL, Keppra® 100 mg/ml oral solution; Manufacturer's PIL, Keppra® 100 mg/ml oral solution, UCB Pharma Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated September 2010.
|Original Author: Helen Allen||Current Version: Helen Allen||Peer Reviewer: Prof Cathy Jackson|
|Last Checked: 14/03/2012||Document ID: 3706 Version: 24||© EMIS|
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.