NEXT UP: Our 1st Community Spotlight featuring Team Gabriella & The Epilepsy Road Warriors
The team at EFMNY would like to thank you for your questions! After each post, we’ll post answers from our experts to the most frequently asked questions we receive. Please note that these Q&A post, like our provider articles, should not be taken as medical advice. Each patient is unique. For medical advice regarding your specific condition, please consult your doctor.
Q&A with Patricia McGoldrick, NP, MPA, MSN:
1. I just found out that one of the medications I’ve taken for years is available in generic form. If it’s only one of the two medications I take, is there less risk in trying the generic?
This is difficult to answer without knowing which medications you are taking. Some of the medications in generic form are made by the same companies that make the brand name medications and so are consistent. The answer depends on the medications, the doses, how long you have been seizure free and a host of other issues. Please ask your provider, as he or she knows you best!
2. My daughter had surgery earlier this year. We were hoping that she would be medication free. However, she is still on meds. Is this typical for kids who have had epilepsy surgery?
The type of surgery, the medications, the length of time after the surgery and the cause of the epilepsy must all be taken into consideration, as well as the EEG findings and the post-operative MRI findings. Typically, medications are considered for some period of time after the surgery. Again, this is a great question for your provider!
3. There are a lot of websites with information about side effects and drug interactions. A lot of it can be overwhelming. What do you recommend as the best resource for people who want to know everything they can about their epilepsy medications?
The best source of information is not the internet or your friends- it is your provider, who has access to peer-reviewed journals and the latest studies. Much of the information on the internet is flawed and unreliable.
4. My new medication makes me very tired, but my doctor says it’s one of the best for my type of seizures. Are there ways to counteract these kinds of side effects over time?
The rule of thumb for treating epilepsy is to use the medication that controls the seizures and does not have unmanageable or intolerable side effects. If the fatigue is interfering with functioning then you may want to either change the medications or change the time of administration. If you are still having seizures, AND having side effects, then it is definitely time to discuss with your provider. Just because the medication is one of the BEST for your type of epilepsy, does not mean that it is the ONLY medication.
5. I am now 41, still living in Stafford. Today, I have lost some more hair!! Now not only can you see the scars from the three operations I’ve undergone, but you can also see the scars from tests I underwent in 1989! How can I get rid of them?
Hair loss is certainly a side effect of some of the medications! We recommend a zinc based shampoo and zinc supplementation daily to reduce hair loss. You can use vitamin E cream to apply to the scars and should also discuss with your surgeon regarding other products or additional plastic surgery to get rid of the scars.