The treatment of epilepsy begins with making a correct diagnosis—the diagnosis that the events are truly seizures, the diagnosis of the seizure type, and the diagnosis of the epilepsy syndrome. This is particularly important in children in whom other non-epileptic, brief disturbances may be confused with and misdiagnosed as epilepsy. The drugs which are used to prevent or control epileptic seizures (anti-epileptic drugs; anticonvulsant drugs) may have to be used for some years—even for life—and have side-effects which are occasionally serious. It is therefore important that the diagnosis of epilepsy is correct before these are prescribed.

The reason for taking drugs is to prevent further seizures or fits from occurring. The drugs will only do this if they are taken regularly, and as advised by the doctor. One common reason for people with epilepsy having further attacks is because they either do not want to take, or forget to take their medication regularly.

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