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Epilepsy Blog Relay: On Rescue Medications for Epilepsy

Rescue medications for seizures and epilepsy have been on my mind a bit recently. Not because I’ve had seizures but because there’s been a few changes in my life that put me more at risk for seizures. I also know that there are more options in the market for rescue medications. Yet my doctor has not had a single conversation with me regarding rescue medications.

This story is part of the Epilepsy Blog Relay™.

How is a rescue medication defined?

According to the Epilepsy Foundation,”As needed” medicines or “rescue treatments” are identified as follows:

  • The ideal rescue medicine (1) is easy to use, (2) works quickly, (3) is safe with little to no side effects, and (4) works well.
  • The goal is to stop seizures quickly to prevent emergency situations. Hopefully this will prevent you from needing an emergency room. However, rescue medicines do NOT take the place of emergency medical care. If a true medical emergency happens, get emergency medical help right away.
  • If medications are prescribed as rescue treatments, they do NOT take the place of daily seizure medications. Most people who have epilepsy are prescribed other medications that they take on a regular basis.
  • People who have certain implanted devices for the treatment of epilepsy (such as a vagus nerve stimulator) can use a magnet to swipe over the device generator at the time of the seizure. This is also a form of rescue treatment.

What rescue medications are available or in use?

  • Rectal Diazepam – most commonly prescribed as a rescue medication for children. Requires taking the patient’s pants off during a seizure to administer.
  • Ativan – oral sedative
  • Valtoco – Nasal Diazepam
  • Nayazilam – Midazolam
  • Libervant – Buccal Diazepam

Why do I care about rescue meds?

Well my seizures have been controlled for 20+ years, which is great, but now I have cancer and over the past few months both my parents passed away. I’m lucky, my seizures have stayed under control. But this equals a ton of stress on my body and mind. All of which could have resulted in a relapse in my seizures.

In fact when I reached out to my neurologist about my cancer and the fact that I was about to start chemo, there was little urgency to get me in to see someone. And certainly no talk of rescue medications.

Thankfully I have not needed them but I know that not everyone is that lucky.

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Don’t miss tomorrow’s story in the Epilepsy Blog Relay™.

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