Keppra and Weight Loss

According to the Internet medication database, Drugs.com, the most common side effects of Keppra -- known by the generic name of levetiracetam -- are dizziness, drowsiness, irritability, sore throat, tiredness and weakness. Some patients report additional side effects, and Drugs.com notes that several cases of weight loss have been reported since Keppra's release. In a study published in the October 2003 issue of "Epilepsy Research," Keppra was found to be weight neutral on average, but only because the number of patients who reported weight loss was the same number who reported weight gain. Keppra could cause weight loss for several reasons.

Nausea and Loss of Appetite

Drugs.com reports that 5 percent of patients taking extended-release Keppra experienced nausea, which could cause them to avoid eating. Nausea and loss of appetite are common side effects of the drug. Loss of appetite may reduce a patient's calorie intake without the patient realizing it, leading to a loss of weight. If you lose your appetite when taking Keppra, whether you have nausea symptoms or not, push yourself to keep eating healthy meals to be sure your body stays properly nourished.

Diarrhea

Eight percent of patients taking Keppra develop diarrhea, according to Drugs.com. Diarrhea may cause weight loss, because the body is not given enough time to extract the calories from food. Patients can minimize the effect of diarrhea by avoiding dairy products or foods high in fat, sugar or fiber. Instead, eat plenty of easily digestible, high-carbohydrate meals containing foods such as bananas, rice, boiled potatoes and cooked carrots.

Depression

As many as 5.7 percent of the Keppra-using population studied reported depression. Depression commonly leads to a loss of appetite and reduced food intake. Unlike other sources of appetite loss, depressed patients may not realize they are losing weight. Depression is a serious problem, and its effects are far more serious than weight loss. Patients who feel depressed for more than two to three days should seek medical attention immediately.

Expert Insight

Keppra has many more side effects than those reported here, ranging from a runny nose to amnesia. Each patient tends to react to the medication differently. Side effects usually disappear as your body adjusts to the medicine, while others will continue as long as you take the drug. If you are concerned about your weight loss or any other side effect, or if you have dangerous symptoms such as a severe allergic reaction or suicidal thoughts, contact your doctor for further advice. Some patients can't tolerate Keppra's side effects and need to be given another antiepileptic medication.

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