Keppra (Generic Levetiracetam)
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Why is this medication prescribed?
Keppra, also known by its generic name levetiracetam, is a medication that is primarily prescribed as an antiepileptic drug. It is used to control and prevent seizures in individuals who have epilepsy.
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures, which are abnormal electrical activities in the brain. Keppra works by stabilizing the electrical activity in the brain, thereby reducing the occurrence and severity of seizures.
Keppra can be prescribed for various types of seizures, including partial seizures (also known as focal seizures) and generalized seizures. It may be used as a standalone medication or in combination with other antiepileptic drugs, depending on the individual’s specific condition and response to treatment.
How should this medicine be used?
Keppra (levetiracetam) should be used exactly as prescribed by a healthcare professional. It is typically available in tablet, extended-release tablet, oral solution, and injection forms. Here are some general guidelines for using Keppra:
- Follow the prescribed dosage: Take the medication exactly as instructed by your healthcare provider. The dosage may vary depending on the individual, the type of seizures being treated, and other factors. Do not change the dosage without consulting your doctor.
- Take it regularly: Keppra is usually taken twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening, with or without food. Follow the prescribed schedule consistently to maintain a steady level of the medication in your system. If you forget a dose, take it as soon as you remember, unless it’s close to the time for the next dose. In that case, skip the missed dose and resume your regular dosing schedule.
- Swallow tablets whole: If you are prescribed Keppra tablets, swallow them whole with a glass of water. Do not crush, chew, or break the tablets unless your healthcare provider specifically advises you to do so.
- Measure oral solution accurately: If you are prescribed Keppra oral solution, use the measuring device provided with the medication to measure the correct dose. Do not use a regular household teaspoon or tablespoon, as they may not provide accurate measurements.
- Do not abruptly stop: It is important not to stop taking Keppra suddenly without consulting your doctor. Stopping the medication abruptly can increase the risk of seizures. If you and your doctor decide to discontinue Keppra, they will provide guidance on how to gradually reduce the dosage over time.
- Be aware of potential side effects: Like any medication, Keppra can have side effects. Common side effects may include drowsiness, dizziness, irritability, headache, and weakness. If you experience any unusual or severe side effects, inform your healthcare provider.
Always consult your doctor or pharmacist for specific instructions on how to use Keppra, as individual circumstances may vary. They will provide you with personalized guidance based on your condition and medical history.
Other uses for this medicine
Other uses for Keppra (off-label):
- Migraine prevention: Keppra has been used off-label to prevent migraines, particularly in cases where other medications have not been effective.
- Neuropathic pain: Some studies have explored the use of Keppra for the management of neuropathic pain, although more research is needed to establish its efficacy in this area.
- Mood disorders: Keppra has been investigated as a potential treatment for mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder. However, further research is required to determine its effectiveness in these conditions.
What special precautions should I follow?
Special precautions with Keppra:
- Allergic reactions: If you are allergic to levetiracetam or any of the inactive ingredients in Keppra, you should avoid taking it. Allergic reactions may include rash, itching, swelling, severe dizziness, or difficulty breathing. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience these symptoms.
- Kidney function: Keppra is primarily eliminated from the body through the kidneys. If you have kidney problems or impaired renal function, your doctor may need to adjust the dosage of Keppra accordingly to prevent the buildup of the medication in your body.
- Behavioral and mood changes: Some individuals may experience behavioral and mood changes, such as irritability, aggression, agitation, anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts, while taking Keppra. It is important to promptly report any unusual changes in mood or behavior to your healthcare provider.
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding: If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, it is important to discuss the risks and benefits of Keppra with your doctor. The medication may be used during pregnancy if necessary, but the potential risks to the fetus should be considered. Keppra is also excreted into breast milk, so it is important to consult with your healthcare provider if you are breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed.
It is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or pharmacist, for specific advice and guidance regarding the appropriate use of Keppra and any precautions that may be relevant to your individual circumstances.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
Keppra does not typically require any specific dietary restrictions. It can be taken with or without food. However, it is always a good practice to follow a balanced and healthy diet, as it can contribute to overall well-being and may indirectly support the effectiveness of your medication. If you have any specific dietary concerns or questions, it is best to consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
If you happen to miss a dose of Keppra, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it is close to the time for your next scheduled dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you frequently forget to take your medication or have difficulty adhering to your prescribed regimen, it is advisable to discuss this with your healthcare provider.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Keppra (levetiracetam) may cause side effects in some individuals. The severity and occurrence of these side effects can vary from person to person. Here are some common side effects associated with Keppra:
- Drowsiness or fatigue
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Irritability or mood changes
- Weakness or lack of energy
- Loss of coordination or unsteadiness
- Infections, such as upper respiratory tract infections or urinary tract infections
- Loss of appetite or weight loss
- Nasal congestion
- Digestive issues, such as nausea or vomiting
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Pain in the abdomen or stomach area
- Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
- Behavioral changes, including aggression, irritability, or hostility (especially in children)
It’s important to note that not everyone will experience these side effects, and some individuals may experience side effects that are not listed here. Additionally, serious side effects are rare but can occur. If you experience any unusual or severe side effects while taking Keppra, it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately.
It’s recommended to consult with your healthcare provider or pharmacist for a complete list of potential side effects associated with Keppra, as well as any specific concerns you may have. They can provide personalized information based on your medical history and help you weigh the benefits and risks of the medication.
What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?
- Storage: Keppra should be stored at room temperature, away from excessive heat, moisture, and light. Follow the specific storage instructions provided by the manufacturer or on the medication label.
- Disposal: Properly dispose of any unused or expired Keppra. Do not flush it down the toilet or pour it down the drain unless instructed to do so by local regulations. It is recommended to consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal authorities for information on safe medication disposal methods.
In case of emergency/overdose
If you suspect an overdose or experience severe symptoms, it is important to seek immediate medical assistance or contact your local emergency services. You can also contact the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 (United States) for guidance. Be prepared to provide information about the medication, dosage, and any other relevant details.
What other information should I know?
- Medication adherence: Take Keppra exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Do not change the dosage or stop taking it without consulting your doctor first. It is important to maintain consistent levels of the medication in your body for optimal seizure control.
- Interactions with other medications: Inform your healthcare provider about all the medications you are currently taking, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and herbal supplements. Keppra may interact with certain medications, including some antacids and drugs that affect the central nervous system.
- Follow-up appointments: Regularly visit your healthcare provider for follow-up appointments and evaluations to monitor your response to Keppra, adjust the dosage if needed, and address any concerns or side effects.
- Medical ID: Consider wearing a medical identification bracelet or carrying a card that indicates you are taking Keppra or have a history of seizures. This can be helpful in case of emergencies or situations where you may require medical assistance.
Always consult your healthcare provider or pharmacist for complete and personalized information about the storage, disposal, emergency procedures, and any other specific considerations related to Keppra. They can provide you with the most up-to-date and accurate guidance based on your individual circumstances.