Keppra (levetiracetam) is a prescription drug used to treat certain types of seizure. Keppra can cause side effects that range from mild to serious. Examples include sleepiness, dizziness, and infection.

Specifically, Keppra is used in adults and certain children to treat:

* For this use, Keppra must be taken together with other antiseizure drugs.

The active ingredient in Keppra is levetiracetam. (An active ingredient is what makes a drug work.)

Keppra comes in the following forms:

  • oral tablet
  • oral extended-release* tablet
  • oral liquid solution
  • liquid solution given as an intravenous (IV) infusion (an injection into a vein given over time) by a healthcare professional

* “Extended-release” means the drug is slowly released into your body over a period of time.

Keep reading to learn about the common, mild, and serious side effects Keppra can cause. For a general overview of the drug, including details about its uses, see this article.

Below is a comparison of the most common side effects occurring in the treatment of focal onset seizure based on the tablet form of the drug. These side effects occurred in at least 5% of Keppra-treated adults and Keppra XR-treated people ages 12 years and older.

KeppraKeppra XRBoth forms
Side effects• weakness
infection
irritability
• dizziness
• sleepiness

Talk with your doctor if you have questions about side effects of Keppra vs. Keppra XR. They can help you determine which form of the drug is best for treating your condition.

Some people may experience mild to serious side effects during Keppra treatment. Below are just a few of the more common side effects reported by people taking the drug in studies. Side effects can vary depending on what condition the drug is being used to treat.

More common side effects in people taking Keppra for focal onset seizures include:

  • dizziness
  • infection
  • sleepiness
  • weakness

More common side effects in people taking Keppra for myoclonic seizures include:

  • neck pain
  • sleepiness
  • sore throat

More common side effects in people taking Keppra for generalized tonic-clonic seizures include:

Note: After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a drug, it tracks and reviews side effects of the medication. If you’d like to notify the FDA about a side effect you’ve had with Keppra, visit MedWatch.

Mild side effects have been reported with Keppra. These include:

  • inability to coordinate muscle movement
  • depression
  • nervousness
  • flu
  • vertigo (a feeling of spinning in your head)
  • mood swings
  • irritability
  • common cold
  • sore throat
  • neck pain
  • weakness
  • sleepiness
  • infection
  • dizziness
  • mild allergic reaction*†

In most cases, these side effects should be temporary. And some may be easily managed. But if you have symptoms that are ongoing or bothersome, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. And do not stop taking Keppra unless your doctor recommends it.

Keppra may cause mild side effects other than those listed above. See the drug’s prescribing information for details.

* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Side effects explained” section below.
† An allergic reaction is possible after taking Keppra, but this side effect wasn’t reported in studies.

Serious side effects have been reported with Keppra. These include:

  • drowsiness that can impair driving and operating machinery
  • withdrawal seizure
  • abnormal behaviors*
  • suicidal thoughts or behavior
  • blood cell problems*
  • inability to coordinate muscle movements
  • increased blood pressure in people ages 1 month to less than 4 years
  • loss of seizure control in pregnancy
  • serious skin reactions
  • severe allergic reaction*†

If you develop serious side effects while taking Keppra, call your doctor right away. If the side effects seem life threatening or you think you’re having a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number.

* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Side effects explained” section below.
† An allergic reaction is possible after taking Keppra, but this side effect wasn’t reported in studies.

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If you or someone you know is in crisis and considering suicide or self-harm, please seek support:

If you’re calling on behalf of someone else, stay with them until help arrives. You may remove weapons or substances that can cause harm if you can do so safely.

If you are not in the same household, stay on the phone with them until help arrives.

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Keppra tablets and liquid solution are used to help treat:

  • focal onset seizures in people ages 1 month and older
  • generalized tonic-clonic seizures in people ages 6 years and older with epilepsy
  • myoclonic seizures in people ages 12 years and older with epilepsy

The following side effects were reported more commonly in children than in adults in the drug’s studies:

For more information about potential side effects of Keppra in children, talk with your child’s doctor or a pharmacist.

Get answers to some frequently asked questions about Keppra’s side effects.

Can Keppra be used in dogs? If so, do dogs experience different side effects than humans?

Keppra is not FDA approved for use in dogs, but your veterinarian may prescribe this drug for your dog, depending on the condition they have.

Side effects in dogs may vary, so it’s best to discuss your dog’s specific risks with your veterinarian. Do not give Keppra or any other drug to your dog without first talking with your vet.

Does Keppra cause long-term side effects?

It’s possible. Long-term side effects include those that may start at any time you’re taking a drug, even if you’ve taken it for a long time. They also include side effects that may not go away, even after you stop taking the drug.

Examples of long-term side effects reported in Keppra’s studies include:

If you’re concerned about possible long-term side effects from Keppra, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Do side effects of Keppra go away?

Most mild side effects, such as sleepiness, weakness, dizziness, and cold or flu symptoms, may go away as you become used to Keppra. Your doctor will likely increase your dose slowly to minimize these side effects.

Other side effects, such as abnormal behaviors, suicidal thoughts or actions, skin reactions, and allergic reactions, may become more severe over time. If you experience these side effects, do not stop Keppra, but call your doctor right away. These types of side effects may require emergency medical attention.

If you still have bothersome side effects after 1–2 weeks, check with your doctor. It’s likely they may be able to adjust your dose schedule or the amount you take to help you tolerate the drug.

Learn more about some of the side effects Keppra may cause.

Abnormal behaviors

Abnormal behaviors are common side effects reported in studies of Keppra, especially in children. Symptoms of abnormal behaviors include:

  • agitation
  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • lack of interest or energy
  • psychosis (loss of contact with reality)
  • depersonalization (a feeling like you’re living in a movie or dream)
  • mood swings
  • nervousness
  • obsessive worrying or actions
  • excessive restlessness
  • hostility
  • anger
  • aggression
  • depression
  • personality disorders

Factors that can increase the risk of abnormal behaviors when taking this drug include:

  • kidney problems (may cause higher Keppra levels in your blood)
  • young age
  • history of abnormal behavior or mental health conditions

What might help

If you have abnormal behavior during Keppra treatment, talk with your doctor right away. They may decide to change your dose of Keppra or switch you to a different medication. Do not stop Keppra without checking with your doctor first. Suddenly stopping this drug may cause withdrawal seizures.

Blood cell problems

Blood cell problems were common side effects reported in studies of Keppra. These problems, which are determined by lab work, include decreased amounts of:

Another possible blood cell problem is an increased eosinophil count.

Blood cell problems may cause symptoms such as:

  • fatigue
  • weakness
  • infection

Factors that can increase the risk of blood cell problems when taking Keppra include:

  • a history of blood cell problems
  • use of other medications that can cause blood cell problems

What might help

Eat a diet rich in lean meats, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Report any symptoms of fatigue, weakness, or frequent infections to your doctor right away. Your doctor will monitor your blood tests and adjust your Keppra dose as needed.

Allergic reaction

Like most drugs, Keppra can cause an allergic reaction in some people. But this side effect wasn’t reported in studies. Symptoms can be mild to serious and can include:

  • skin rash
  • itchiness
  • flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color)
  • swelling under your skin (usually in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet)
  • swelling of your mouth, tongue, or throat, which can make it hard to breathe

What might help

If you have mild symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as a mild rash, call your doctor right away. They may suggest a treatment to manage your symptoms. Examples include:

  • an antihistamine you swallow, such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine)
  • a product you apply to your skin, such as hydrocortisone cream

If your doctor confirms you’ve had a mild allergic reaction to Keppra, they’ll decide if you should continue taking it.

If you have symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, such as swelling or trouble breathing, call 911 or your local emergency number right away. These symptoms could be life threatening and require immediate medical care.

If your doctor confirms you’ve had a serious allergic reaction to Keppra, they may have you switch to a different treatment.

Keeping track of side effects

During your Keppra treatment, consider taking notes on any side effects you’re having. You can then share this information with your doctor. This is especially helpful when you first start taking a new drug or using a combination of treatments.

Your side effect notes can include things such as:

  • what dose of the drug you were taking when you had the side effect
  • how soon you had the side effect after starting that dose
  • what your symptoms were
  • how your symptoms affected your daily activities
  • what other medications you were taking
  • any other information you feel is important

Keeping notes and sharing them with your doctor will help them learn more about how Keppra affects you. They can then use this information to adjust your treatment plan if needed.

Below is important information you should consider before starting Keppra.

Warnings

Keppra can sometimes cause harmful effects in people with certain conditions. This is known as a drug-condition interaction. Other factors may also affect whether Keppra is a good treatment option for you.

Talk with your doctor about your health history before taking Keppra. Be sure to tell them if any of the following factors apply to you:

  • kidney problems
  • history of depression, mood problems, or suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • use of other prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, supplements, herbs, or vitamins
  • previous allergic reaction to Keppra
  • pregnancy
  • breastfeeding

Alcohol and Keppra

There are no known interactions between alcohol and Keppra. But consuming alcohol may worsen side effects of Keppra, such as dizziness or sleepiness. And alcohol may increase the risk of seizure in people with epilepsy.

It’s best to avoid or limit alcohol consumption during Keppra treatment. If you have questions, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding with Keppra

There’s limited information about the safety of Keppra use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

Pregnancy

It’s not known whether it’s safe to take Keppra during pregnancy. If you and your doctor determine that Keppra is needed to treat your seizures during pregnancy, you’ll need more frequent monitoring during the last trimester. As changes happen in your body, you may need a higher dose of Keppra to maintain seizure control.

If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, talk with your doctor before starting this medication.

If you’re able to become pregnant, your doctor may recommend using a form of birth control before and throughout your Keppra treatment.

If you take this drug while pregnant, consider signing up for the North American Antiepileptic Drug Pregnancy Registry by visiting the website or calling 888-233-2334. A pregnancy registry collects information about the safety of certain drugs when used during pregnancy.

Breastfeeding

It isn’t known whether Keppra is safe to take while breastfeeding. Keppra can pass into breast milk, and it’s not known whether the drug will harm a child who is breastfed. If you’re breastfeeding or planning to do so, talk with your doctor before starting this medication.

Like most drugs, Keppra can cause a number of side effects that range from mild to serious. But most are temporary and go away after a few days to weeks. If you have questions about side effects Keppra can cause, talk with your doctor.

Examples of questions to help get you started include:

  • What’s my risk of serious side effects from Keppra?
  • Do certain foods or beverages worsen side effects of this drug?
  • Will Keppra make me too sleepy to drive?
  • Can I treat side effects such as headache, nasal congestion, and sore throat with over-the-counter medications?
  • What side effects should prompt me to call you right away?

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Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.