Generic name: levetiracetam (lee-va-tye-RA-se-tam)
Drug class: Pyrrolidine anticonvulsants
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Sep 8, 2020.
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
Available Dosage Forms:
Therapeutic Class: Anticonvulsant
Uses for levetiracetam
Levetiracetam injection is used to control partial onset seizures in adults and children 1 month of age and older in the treatment of epilepsy. It is also used to help treat myoclonic seizures in adults and children 12 years of age and older with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy. Levetiracetam injection is also used to help treat primary generalized tonic-clonic seizures in adults and children 6 years of age and older with idiopathic generalized epilepsy. Levetiracetam cannot cure epilepsy and will only work to control seizures for as long as you continue to use it.
Levetiracetam is to be given only by or under the direct supervision of a doctor.
Before using levetiracetam
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For levetiracetam, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to levetiracetam or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated pediatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of levetiracetam injection for the treatment of partial onset seizures in children 1 month to 16 years of age, or for the treatment of myoclonic seizures in children 12 years of age and older with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy, or for the treatment of primary generalized tonic-clonic seizures in children 6 years of age and older with idiopathic generalized epilepsy.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of levetiracetam injection in the elderly. However, elderly patients are more likely to have age-related kidney problems, which may require caution or an adjustment in the dose for patients receiving levetiracetam injection.
There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.
Interactions with medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are receiving levetiracetam, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using levetiracetam with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
Using levetiracetam with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
Interactions with food/tobacco/alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other medical problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of levetiracetam. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Depression, history of or
- Mental illness, history of—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
- Kidney problems—Use with caution. The effects may be increased because of slower removal from the body.
Proper use of levetiracetam
A nurse or other trained health professional will give you or your child levetiracetam in a hospital. Levetiracetam is given through a needle that is placed in one of your veins. The medicine must be injected slowly, so your IV tube will need to stay in place for 15 minutes.
Your doctor will give you or your child a few doses of levetiracetam until your condition improves, and then switch you to an oral medicine that works the same way. If you have any concerns about this, talk to your doctor.
Precautions while using levetiracetam
It is very important that your doctor check your progress closely while you or your child is receiving levetiracetam. This will allow your doctor to see if the medicine is working properly and to check for unwanted effects.
Levetiracetam may cause changes in mood or behavior, problems with coordination, or unusual tiredness or weakness. Tell your doctor right away if you or your child starts to feel depressed, anxious, or angry, getting upset easily, restless, or if you have thoughts about hurting yourself. Report any unusual thoughts or behavior that trouble you or your child, especially if they are new or getting worse quickly.
Levetiracetam may cause some people to become dizzy, drowsy, tired, or less alert than they are normally. Make sure you know how you react to levetiracetam before you drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous if you are dizzy or not alert.
Levetiracetam may cause serious allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Tell your doctor right away if you or your child have a rash, itching, trouble breathing, trouble swallowing, or any swelling of your hands, face, or mouth while you are receiving levetiracetam.
Serious skin reactions can occur with levetiracetam. Check with your doctor right away if you or your child have blistering, peeling, or loose skin, red skin lesions, severe acne or skin rash, sores or ulcers on the skin, or fever or chills while you are using levetiracetam.
Do not interrupt or stop receiving levetiracetam without checking first with your doctor. Your doctor may want you or your child to gradually reduce the amount you are using before stopping it completely.
Levetiracetam may cause an increase in blood pressure in children 1 month to 4 years of age. If you notice any changes to your child's normal blood pressure, tell your child's doctor right away.
Levetiracetam side effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor or nurse immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
- Cough or hoarseness
- fever or chills
- lower back or side pain
- painful or difficult urination
Incidence not known
- Black, tarry stools
- bleeding gums
- blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin
- blood in the urine or stools
- changes in behavior
- darkened urine
- difficulty having a bowel movement (stool)
- fast heartbeat
- general tiredness and weakness
- joint or muscle pain
- light-colored stools
- loss of appetite
- nausea and vomiting
- pains in the stomach, side, or abdomen, possibly radiating to the back
- pale skin
- pinpoint red spots on the skin
- red skin lesions, often with a purple center
- red, irritated eyes
- restlessness or agitation
- sore throat
- sores, ulcers, or white spots in the mouth or on the lips
- thoughts or attempts at killing oneself
- twitching, twisting, or uncontrolled repetitive movements of the tongue, lips, face, arms, or legs
- uncontrolled jerking or twisting movements of the hands, arms, or legs
- uncontrolled movements of the lips, tongue, or cheeks
- unusual bleeding or bruising
- unusual tiredness or weakness
- upper right abdominal or stomach pain
- yellow eyes or skin
Get emergency help immediately if any of the following symptoms of overdose occur:
Symptoms of overdose
- attack, assault, or force
- decrease, loss, or change in consciousness
- difficult or troubled breathing
- dry mouth
- irregular, fast or slow, or shallow breathing
- irregular heartbeats
- pale or blue lips, fingernails, or skin
- sleepiness or unusual drowsiness
- trouble sleeping
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
- Body aches or pain
- lack or loss of strength
- runny nose
- tender, swollen glands in the neck
- trouble swallowing
- voice changes
- Aggressive or angry
- burning, crawling, itching, numbness, prickling, "pins and needles", or tingling feelings
- double vision or seeing double
- feeling of constant movement of self or surroundings
- feeling sad or empty
- loss of interest or pleasure
- loss of memory
- loss or lack of appetite
- pain or tenderness around the eyes and cheekbones
- problems with memory
- quick to react or overreact emotionally
- rapidly changing moods
- sensation of spinning
- shakiness and unsteady walk
- stuffy nose
- trouble concentrating
- unsteadiness, trembling, or other problems with muscle control or coordination
- weight loss
Incidence not known
- Hair loss or thinning of the hair
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
More about levetiracetam
- Side Effects
- During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding
- Dosage Information
- Patient Tips
- Drug Images
- Drug Interactions
- Compare Alternatives
- Pricing & Coupons
- En Español
- 346 Reviews
- Drug class: pyrrolidine anticonvulsants
- Patient Information
- Levetiracetam (Advanced Reading)
- Levetiracetam Tablets
- Levetiracetam Extended-Release Tablets
- Levetiracetam Injection
- Levetiracetam Oral Solution
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