Keppra Side Effects

by on July 21, 2012


The most common side effects of Keppra (Levetiracetam) are sleepiness, infection, dizziness, and weakness; the most common side effects children may experience in addition to those listed are irritability, nasal congestion, loss of appetite, aggressive behaviors, and tiredness. These side effects commonly diminish over time but should be reported to a doctor if they persist or become bothersome.

Common Keppra Side Effects

The most common Keppra side effects include the following:

  • Sleepiness
  • Infection
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness

Children may experience the above side effects in addition to the following symptoms:

  • Irritability
  • Nasal congestion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Tiredness

The side effects listed above usually do not require medical attention as they will commonly diminish when your body adjusts to the medication. Your doctor may also be able to advise you of ways to reduce or prevent these common side effects from occurring. However, if any persist or become bothersome you should notify your doctor to discuss alternative solutions.

Serious Keppra Side Effects

An allergic reaction can occur when you take Keppra. If you experience any of the following side effects indicating an allergic response, get emergency medical help right away.

  • Hives
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of lips, face, throat, or tongue

Other side effects can occur that are not indicative of an allergic reaction but are still serious. Notify your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following side effects:

  • Severe skin rash
  • Muscle coordination problems
  • Extreme sleepiness or weakness
  • Mood or behavioral changes
  • Suicidal ideations
  • Suicide attempts
  • Worsening or new depression symptoms
  • Panic attacks
  • Worsening or new anxiety
  • Agitation or restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Manic behaviors such as recklessness and impulsivity
  • Aggressive or violent behaviors
  • Worsening or new irritability
  • Double vision
  • Memory loss or other problems with memory

Suicidal Thinking or Behaviors

Keppra can increase the risk for suicidal thoughts or behaviors. Caregivers should be aware of any mood or behavioral changes, worsening depression, and suicidal thoughts; if any of these are noticed, a health care provider should be notified immediately. It is important that you keep all follow up appointments and contact the doctor with any questions or worries pertaining to mood changes or suicidal thinking. Keppra can also cause behavioral abnormalities such as paranoia and confusion and in very rare occurrences this medication may have caused isolated episodes of psychosis that led to a discontinuation of the drug.

Severe Skin Reactions

Severe skin reactions such as toxic epidermal necrolysis and Stevens - Johnson syndrome have occurred in children and adults while taking Keppra. The average time for a skin reaction onset is 14 days, but cases have been reported up to 4 months after starting the medication. Keppra should be stopped at the first sign of a skin reaction unless it is obvious the rash has a different cause; if a severe skin reaction occurs, this medication should be discontinued permanently.

Muscle and Coordination Problems

Coordination difficulties were reported in adults taking Keppra, the problems typically occurred in the first 4 weeks of starting the medication. Patients should be monitored closely for any type of coordination difficulty; caution should also be used before driving or operating machinery in order to allow yourself to become accustomed to the effect the drug will have on you physiologically. It is important to use caution before performing any task that requires you to be fully alert and physically sound while taking this medication.


During pregnancy the common physiological changes that take place may cause a decrease of levetiracetam levels in plasma; this decrease is more pronounced in the third trimester of pregnancy. Close monitoring of Keppra drug therapy should occur during pregnancy and in the postpartum months, especially if a dosage has been changed. Keppra should only be used during pregnancy if the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks to the fetus; Keppra was shown to cause developmental toxicity to the fetus in animal studies. Women who are breastfeeding should choose between discontinuing this medication or breastfeeding as Keppra is present in breast milk and poses a significant risk for adverse reactions in newborns.

Other Medications

It is important to notify your doctor of all prescription, over the counter, and herbal medications that you take prior to starting Keppra; be sure to tell your doctor about all medications that have the potential to increase drowsiness when taken with levetiracetam. The following medications may increase drowsiness; narcotic pain medications, sleeping pills, muscle relaxants, antihistamines, cold and allergy medications, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications.

Keppra is a medication used to treat several types of epileptic conditions; the medication dosage and frequency will vary by individual case. In the presence of pregnancy, breastfeeding, or abnormal mood changes the potential benefits of this drug will need to be weighed against the possible risks to determine if the drug should be used or not. If serious side effects occur, notify your doctor immediately as they may be indicative of a dangerous reaction.