Carbamazepine for Epilepsy
Carbamazepine comes in liquid, tablet, and chewable tablet forms.
How It Works
Carbamazepine prevents seizures by calming the electrical activity in the brain.
Why It Is Used
Carbamazepine is the medicine of choice for children who have partial seizures and one of the drugs of choice for treating adults who have partial seizures. It may also be used to control generalized tonic-clonic seizures.
People who have absence seizures or myoclonic seizures probably should not use carbamazepine. It does not prevent these types of seizures and can even make them worse.
How Well It Works
Carbamazepine is effective in preventing partial seizures and generalized tonic-clonic seizures.1
Common side effects of carbamazepine include:
Your doctor may prescribe smaller but more frequent doses of carbamazepine to help reduce its side effects. High doses of carbamazepine can affect a person's thinking and state of mind, but this can often be avoided.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning on antiepileptic medicines and the risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts. The FDA does not recommend that people stop using these medicines. Instead, people who take antiepileptic medicine should be watched closely for warning signs of suicide. People who take antiepileptic medicine and who are worried about this side effect should talk to a doctor.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
It may take time and careful, controlled adjustments by you and your doctor to find the combination, schedule, and dosing of medicine to best manage your epilepsy. The goal is to prevent seizures while causing as few side effects as possible. Regular blood tests help monitor the amount of medicine in your blood—it is important to maintain a consistent level. After you and your doctor figure out the medicine program that works best for you, make sure to follow your program exactly as prescribed.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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