Laxatives And Seizure Medication: Safe Together?

can I take laxatives with seizure medication

Constipation is a common gastrointestinal disorder characterised by infrequent defecation, straining, and hard stool. It is believed to be a trigger for seizures, and constipation-induced seizures have been observed in mice. In humans, constipation is a common issue for those with epilepsy, and it has been observed that seizures tend to occur or cluster during periods of constipation. Antiseizure medications (ASM) are prescription medications that can help treat and prevent seizures. They can also be used to treat other conditions like anxiety and neuropathic pain. While ASM can cause constipation, there is no evidence to suggest that laxatives and antiseizure medications cannot be taken together. However, it is always best to consult a doctor or pharmacist before taking any new medication.

Characteristics Values
Can laxatives be taken with seizure medication? It depends on the type of laxative and seizure medication. In some cases, laxatives may reduce the effectiveness of seizure medication.
Are there any risks associated with taking laxatives and seizure medication together? Taking certain laxatives with seizure medication may increase the risk of side effects.
What are some alternative treatments for constipation in people with seizures? Natural remedies such as isabgol (Softovac) or dietary changes like the ketogenic diet may help relieve constipation in people with seizures.
How does constipation affect seizures? Constipation may increase the propensity for seizures.


Can laxatives reduce the effectiveness of seizure medication?

Laxatives are over-the-counter medications used to treat constipation, a common gastrointestinal disorder characterised by infrequent bowel movements, hard stools, and straining. Constipation is a well-known side effect of some seizure medications, affecting up to 43% of patients with epilepsy. While there is no scientific data to support a causal link between constipation and seizures, some studies suggest that constipation may lower the threshold for seizures and increase their propensity.

The question of whether laxatives can reduce the effectiveness of seizure medication is complex and depends on various factors. Firstly, it is essential to understand that laxatives are not all created equal. They work through different mechanisms and can have varying effects on the body. Some laxatives may affect the absorption or metabolism of certain medications, including seizure medications, which could potentially reduce their effectiveness. However, this interaction is more commonly associated with older-generation antiseizure medications.

Additionally, the effectiveness of seizure medication depends on several factors, such as the type and dosage of the medication, as well as individual factors like age, weight, and other medical conditions. The use of laxatives may influence these factors to some extent. For example, laxatives that promote bowel movements can affect the absorption of certain medications in the gastrointestinal tract, potentially reducing their effectiveness. This interaction may be more significant if the seizure medication is taken orally and has a narrow therapeutic window, meaning that even small changes in absorption can impact its effectiveness.

Moreover, some laxatives can affect liver enzymes, which play a crucial role in metabolising medications. By influencing the production of liver enzymes, laxatives could potentially impact how the body metabolises seizure medications, leading to reduced effectiveness or altered side effects.

In conclusion, while there is no direct evidence that laxatives reduce the effectiveness of seizure medication, the potential for interaction exists. The type of laxative, the specific seizure medication, and individual patient factors all play a role in determining the likelihood and extent of any interaction. Therefore, it is essential to consult a healthcare provider before taking laxatives concurrently with any prescription medication, including seizure medication, to ensure safe and effective use.

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Can constipation be a trigger for seizures?

Constipation is a common gastrointestinal disorder characterised by infrequent defecation, straining, and hard stool. It is a well-known side effect of anti-seizure medication.

There is a common belief among patients and physicians that constipation can trigger seizures. However, there is no scientific data to support this claim. On the other hand, some studies on mice have shown that constipation caused by certain drugs may lower the threshold for seizures.

In a study on 120 patients with epilepsy and 113 healthy subjects, it was found that constipation was significantly more common in patients with epilepsy (43.3%) than in healthy subjects (21.2%). In this study, most seizures in patients with drug-resistant epilepsy occurred during periods of altered bowel movements, especially constipation.

Another study found that constipation was reported to precede seizures in two cases. Treatment with laxatives was followed by the cessation of seizure-like episodes.

While there is some evidence to suggest a link between constipation and seizures, further research is needed to establish a causal relationship.

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What are the side effects of seizure medication?

Seizure medications can have a wide range of side effects, and it is very common to experience at least one of them. Most of the time, these effects are mild and don't last long. They can often be treated by adjusting the dose or how a person takes their medication. That said, it's important to be aware that some side effects are 'idiosyncratic', meaning they are unique to the individual.

Some of the more common side effects of seizure medication include:

  • Feeling tired and drowsy
  • Feeling agitated, nervous or jumpy
  • Nausea (feeling like you're going to be sick)
  • Hypersensitivity to noise or light
  • Mood changes, including low mood
  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss
  • Loss of sexual desire
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Poor coordination or balance
  • Stomach upset or pain
  • Insomnia
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Double vision
  • Behavioural changes
  • Decreased concentration
  • Greater irritability
  • Hyperactivity

In rare cases, more serious side effects can occur, such as:

  • Liver or kidney damage
  • A serious drop in the number of white blood cells in the body (needed to fight infection)
  • A serious drop in the number of platelets in the body (needed to control bleeding)
  • Aplastic anaemia (severe damage to bone marrow so blood cells aren't produced normally)
  • Serious bleeding resulting from a low platelet count
  • Liver damage
  • Bone loss

If you are experiencing side effects from your seizure medication, it is important to speak to your doctor. They may suggest a range of strategies, such as reducing your dosage, stopping polytherapy (taking more than one kind of anti-seizure medication), changing the rhythm of your medication, or trying a different drug.

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What are the risks of taking laxatives with seizure medication?

The combination of laxatives and seizure medication can have several risks and side effects. Firstly, it is important to note that gastrointestinal (GI) discomfort is one of the most common side effects of anti-seizure medications, with symptoms such as heartburn, nausea, constipation, vomiting, diarrhea, and dysphagia. Taking laxatives in conjunction with these medications may exacerbate GI issues and lead to dehydration, diarrhea, and dizziness. Additionally, there is a risk of drug-induced delayed multi-organ hypersensitivity syndrome, an allergic reaction affecting the skin, liver, lymphatic system, and other body systems.

Furthermore, certain antiseizure medications can cause dysrhythmia or irregular heartbeat, and an overdose of these medications can lead to toxicity, resulting in slow and shallow breathing and potentially coma or death. It is also worth noting that constipation has been linked to an increased propensity for seizures in mice models, and altered bowel movements, particularly constipation, have been associated with seizure occurrence in drug-resistant patients.

Therefore, combining laxatives and seizure medication may have adverse effects and increase the risk of certain complications. It is always advisable to consult a healthcare professional before taking any new medications or supplements, especially when already on a prescribed medication regimen.

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What are the alternatives to laxatives for people with epilepsy?

People with epilepsy have many treatment options, from lifestyle changes to brain surgery. Here are some alternative treatments to laxatives for people with epilepsy:

  • Ketogenic diet: This is a strict diet that severely limits carbohydrates and maximises fats and proteins. It triggers ketosis, an alternate metabolic pathway in the body that works against seizures.
  • Modified Atkins Diet: This is similar to the ketogenic diet but with a lower fat and higher protein content, no fluid or calorie restriction, and no fast at the beginning of the diet.
  • Oligoantigenic diet: This diet contains very few foods, such as one meat, one starch, one fruit, one vegetable, one oil, multivitamins, calcium, and mineral water.
  • Aerobic exercise: Doctors often recommend aerobic exercise for epilepsy patients as it increases the amount of mood-boosting chemicals called endorphins in the body and can also calm abnormal electrical brain activity that triggers seizures.
  • Biofeedback: This is a method of using relaxation or imagery to change body functions such as breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure.
  • Yoga: Yoga combines exercise with deep breathing and meditation to strengthen the body and calm the mind. Some studies show that yoga may help reduce the number of seizures and improve overall well-being.
  • Meditation: Meditation involves deep breathing and repeating a word or phrase to steer the mind away from stressful thoughts. As stress can be a trigger for seizures, meditation may help reduce them.
  • Music therapy: Listening to music, particularly Mozart's sonata for two pianos in D major (K. 448), has been found to reduce abnormal brain signals in patients with epilepsy.
  • CBD oil: The FDA has approved a synthetic form of CBD oil called Epidiolex for treating two rare and severe forms of epilepsy: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.
  • Vagus nerve stimulation: This involves wrapping an electrode around the vagus nerve on the left side of the neck and implanting a computer battery under the skin. It delivers a 30-second electrical impulse every five minutes to stimulate the brain.
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Frequently asked questions

It is not recommended to take laxatives with seizure medication unless advised by a doctor. Taking laxatives with certain epilepsy medicines may cause the epilepsy medicines to be less effective.

The side effects of seizure medication vary depending on the specific medication and brand. Common side effects include weight gain or loss, drowsiness, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

Rare but serious complications of seizure medication include Stevens-Johnson syndrome, pancytopenia (a lack of all three cellular components of your blood), and drug-induced delayed multi-organ hypersensitivity syndrome (an allergic reaction that affects your skin, liver, lymphatic system and other body systems). Other possible complications include an increased risk of suicidal thoughts or behaviour and irregular heartbeat.

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