What are Common Side Effects of Epilepsy?

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  • Written By: Patti Kate
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2019
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Common side effects of epilepsy typically include seizures that may vary in intensity; muscle weakness; or in more severe cases, loss of consciousness. Other effects of epilepsy may involve involuntary muscle spasms and persistent movements or actions. Less common side effects of epilepsy may involve expressionless or blank staring with no purposeful reason, as if in a state of confusion.

Epilepsy side effects will vary by individual as well as throughout the course of a person's condition. One of the most extreme symptoms and side effects of epilepsy is when the patient experiences a grand mal seizure. This type of convulsion is characterized by violent muscle contractions involving virtually every part of the body; the individual may thrash about uncontrollably, flailing his or her limbs and jerking every part of the body. These contractions can be so severe that often the person may fall to the ground and face the risk of injury. These seizures can typically last up to two minutes.

Other side effects of epilepsy may include a feeling of numbness in any part of the body. This generally warns the individual that a seizure is imminent. The patient may also emit a piercing sound, due to a temporary loss of muscle control involving the vocal cords.


Childhood epilepsy symptoms can manifest suddenly. Headaches and lack of muscle control may be an early sign. Diagnosing the condition in children may be difficult without performing extensive tests. When a seizure occurs without any known cause or pre-existing condition, epilepsy may be suspected. In this state, it is typically known as generalized epilepsy.

Although it is not very common, hallucinations or delusions may manifest as one of the serious side effects of epilepsy. The individual may actually hear something or feel something that is not there. In some cases, symptoms may not be limited to visualization. Some epileptic episodes may involve experiencing a scent or aura surrounding the patient. This may precede an attack or seizure.

Nocturnal epilepsy can occur in adults and children. Common side effects from this particular form of epilepsy are seizures that occur while sleeping. The episode will typically last for a minute or so. In many cases, the patient may have no recollection of the event.

Other side effects from nocturnal epilepsy include extreme fatigue and daytime sleepiness, which can occur from a lack of uninterrupted sleep. Nocturnal epilepsy may require medication to control symptoms and prevent nighttime seizures from recurring. Medications may also enable the patient to restore a beneficial sleeping routine.


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