Epilepsy: 199 Answers ( A Doctor Responds to His Patients’ Questions)

By Andrew N Wilner MD FACP. Published by Demos Vermande, New York, 1996. ISBN 1-888799-09-9. Paperbound, xx +128 pp. (23x15.5 cm), $24.95.

There is a paucity of literature about epilepsy available to patients and their families. This book is an excellent resource and may help to bridge that gap by disseminating educational information to the people who need this information the most. Besides the patients and their families, these people may include psychiatrists, family physicians, nurses, pharmacists, psychologists, social workers, and clergy members.

The book is clear, complete, and well organized. The author begins each chapter with an appropriate case that entices the reader to read further. The book is written in an easy-to-read question/answer format. Questions are divided into chapters, which makes answers easy to find. The chapters include information such as what to expect at the physician’s office, medications, medication adverse effects, alternatives to medications, brain surgery, involvement in research trials, support groups, driving, employment, and nonepileptic seizures.

The text is easy to understand and very comprehensive. Besides answering a number of important questions, some of the book’s greatest strengths are the provision of information in the appendices on support groups, state requirements for seizure-free periods for driving, and comprehensive treatment centers where one might go to be involved in clinical research. Seizure calendars, as well as an area for patients to document their seizure history, are provided.

Although the book has no major weaknesses, there are several questions that I might have answered differently, such as making up a missed dose of antiepileptic medication. The author suggested that the missed dose be taken either before or after the next dose. Since many of these medications have dose-related adverse effects, I would more specifically advise patients to take any missed doses within 4 hours of the time missed, and if it is longer, skip that dose and take the next scheduled dose. Another question asked about addition to phenobarbital. The answer appeared to confuse addition with physiologic tolerance by discussing withdrawal and return of seizures on abrupt discontinuation of the medication.

The author has written the book in a fashion that remains current, even with the advent of a number of recently approved antiepileptic medications. At $24.95, it is reasonably priced and should be recommended to patients diagnosed with epilepsy and their families. It should also be on the bookshelves of healthcare professionals and clergy who provide education and counseling for persons with epilepsy.

Cherry Wyant Jackson PharmD BCPP

Associate Professor of Pharmacy

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Institute of Psychiatry

Medical University of South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina 29425


Reprinted with permission from:The Annals of Pharmacotherapy, Vol 32, November 1998, pp 1255-1256