Seizure medications and other treatments can be thought of in two broad groups:

  • Medicines that are taken daily to control seizures. Daily seizure medicines are the main way of treating seizures. It's critical that these medicines be taken consistently to keep a steady amount in in the body (and brain) so they work properly.
  • Medicines that are taken "as needed" to stop clusters of seizures, seizures that last longer than usual, or when seizures occur at specific predictable times. These "as needed" medicines are commonly called "rescue medicines." 

Many people whose seizures are well-controlled or only occur sporadically and are not "severe" or long, may only need daily seizure medicine. If a seizure occurs, general first aid does the trick. Nothing else is needed. 

However, some people may need more than care and comfort seizure first aid. Maybe the seizure is lasting longer than usual or the person has had a cluster of seizures. In these situations, a medication or treatment may be prescribed to use as an intervention or way of responding to the seizure that does not require emergency medical care. Essentially, these rescue treatments are another part of seizure first aid. 

The rescue therapies discussed here include:

  • Medicines that are prescribed by a licensed health care provider to take at specific times. They are not used every day and they do not take the place of daily seizure medicine. 
  • The vagus nerve stimulator (VNS) magnet used when a person has a seizure and has an implanted VNS device.

As new rescue therapies are developed and available, we'll add them here too!

Authored By: 
Steven C. Schachter MD
Patty Obsorne Shafer RN, MN
Reviewed By: 
Patty Obsorne Shafer RN, MN
Tuesday, March 18, 2014