• Drugs:

    Seizures

    Seizures may occur in patients with brain tumors. Seizures are caused by a disruption of the normal flow of electricity in the brain. There are many different types of seizures. The most common types are focal seizures which may involve twitching of the face, arm or leg, or clouding of thought processes without complete loss of consciousness or they may be generalized and involve the total body shaking with complete loss of consciousness.

    How to manage this symptom:

    • During a seizure remain calm. Patients do not suffocate during seizures.
    • Most seizures are brief lasting less than a minute or two.
    • Do not put anything in the patient’s mouth. They will not “swallow” or bite off their tongue.
    • Protect the patient as much as possible from sharp objects or dangerous situations.
    • If vomiting occurs, turn the patient on their side so that the stomach fluid runs out of their mouth so that they do not choke.
    • If seizures occur, talk with your neuro-oncologist about driving, operating equipment, swimming or any other potentially dangerous activity.

    Make sure you take your anti-seizure medication as prescribed.

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    Commonly Used Seizure Medications:

    • Dilantin (phenytoin). The major potential side effects are:
    • Blood levels that are too high can cause clumsiness while walking, much like that of alcohol intoxication
    • Dilantin rashes are very common and can be dangerous – call your provider if this occurs
    • Some patients may feel fatigue (overwhelming tiredness) when taking Dilantin
    • Tegretol (carbamazepine). The major side effects are:
    • Rash, although far more rare than with Dilantin; however, patients who get a rash from Dilantin are more likely to get a rash on Tegretol
    • Low white blood counts
    • Double vision, when levels become toxic
    • Fatigue
    • Depakote (valproic acid). The major side effects are:
    • The most frequent side effect is a mild tremor (shaking) in the hands
    • Rash is far rarer than with Dilantin
    • The liver can be injured by this medication
    • This medication is very harmful to the human fetus and should not be given to pregnant women or nursing mothers
    • Keppra (levetiracetam). The most frequent side effects are:
    • Fatigue, weakness
    • Irritability, anxiety (nervousness)
    • Lamictal (lamotrigine). The most common side effects include:
    • Dizziness, fatigue
    • Balance problems
    • Headaches, double vision

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