phenytoin (oral) (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking phenytoin?
You should not use this medication if you are allergic to phenytoin.
If you have any of these other conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests:
You may have thoughts about suicide while taking this medication. Tell your doctor if you have new or worsening depression or suicidal thoughts during the first several months of treatment, or whenever your dose is changed.
Your family or other caregivers should also be alert to changes in your mood or symptoms. Your doctor will need to check you at regular visits. Do not miss any scheduled appointments.
Patients of Asian ancestry may have a higher risk of developing a rare but serious skin reaction to phenytoin. Your doctor may recommend a blood test before you start the medication to determine your risk of this skin reaction.
Phenytoin can affect your blood sugar. If you are a diabetic, check your blood sugar regularly while you are taking this medication.
FDA pregnancy category D. Do not use phenytoin without your doctor's consent if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Phenytoin may also not be as effective in reducing seizures if taken during pregnancy. Use effective birth control, and tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment.
Although phenytoin might harm an unborn baby, having a seizure during pregnancy could harm both mother and baby. Follow your doctor's instructions about taking phenytoin while you are pregnant.
Phenytoin can make birth control pills less effective. Use a non-hormonal form of birth control (such as a condom or diaphragm with spermicide) to prevent an unintended pregnancy.
Phenytoin can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.
How should I take phenytoin?
Take exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. Follow the directions on your prescription label.
Do not crush, chew, break, or open an extended-release capsule. Swallow it whole. Breaking or opening the pill may cause too much of the drug to be released at one time.
Do not use any phenytoin capsule or tablet that has changed colors. Call your doctor for a new prescription.
The chewable tablet may be chewed, broken, or crushed before swallowing, or it may be swallowed whole.
Shake the oral suspension (liquid) well just before you measure a dose. Measure the liquid with a special dose-measuring spoon or medicine cup, not with a regular table spoon. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.
To be sure this medication is helping your condition, your blood may need to be tested often. You may also need a blood test when switching from one form of phenytoin to another. Visit your doctor regularly.
If you are taking phenytoin to treat seizures, keep taking the medication even if you feel fine. You may have an increase in seizures if you stop taking phenytoin. Follow your doctor's instructions.
Do not change your dose of phenytoin without your doctor's advice. Tell your doctor if the medication does not seem to work as well in treating your condition.
Wear a medical alert tag or carry an ID card stating that you take phenytoin. Any medical care provider who treats you should know that you are taking a seizure medication.
Store at room temperature away from moisture, light, and heat.
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Need help identifying pills and medications?
Find tips and treatments to control seizures.