Carbamazepine is a prescription medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1968 for the treatment of seizures. In people with epilepsy, Carbamazepine is used to prevent most types of seizures except absence seizures. Carbamazepine is not usually prescribed for primary generalized epilepsy. Carbamazepine is sold under the brand names Tegretol and Carbatrol.
Carbamazepine is a member of the dibenzazepine class of anticonvulsants. An anticonvulsant is a drug that prevents seizures. It is believed that Carbamazepine works in cases of epilepsy by inhibiting nerve signals.
How do I take it?
Your doctor may order a genetic test to gauge your risk for allergic reactions to Carbamazepine before prescribing it.
Carbamazepine is taken orally as a tablet, capsule, or a liquid two to four times a day. If you are taking an extended-release tablet, always swallow it whole without crushing or chewing it. If you are taking an extended-release capsule, you can open the capsule and sprinkle the beads onto a soft food such as applesauce. Your doctor will likely start you on a low dose of Carbamazepine and gradually increase the dosage.
Avoid driving or operating machinery until you are certain you understand how Carbamazepine affects you.
Carbamazepine may reduce the effectiveness of some forms of birth control, including oral contraceptives and implants. You may need to adopt another form of birth control while using Carbamazepine.
Ask your doctor whether you need to avoid eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice while taking Carbamazepine.
Drinking alcohol while taking Carbamazepine can intensify some side effects.
Do not stop taking Carbamazepine suddenly. If you decide to stop taking Carbamazepine, consult your physician for a plan to taper off gradually.
Always follow your doctor’s instructions exactly when taking Carbamazepine.
Common side effects of Carbamazepine include sleepiness, dizziness, nausea, feeling unsteady on your feet, headache, and blurry vision. Some of these side effects may fade as your body acclimates to Carbamazepine.
Call your doctor if you experience chest pain, vision problems, yellowing of the eyes or skin, confusion, or the sensation of being out of contact with reality while taking Carbamazepine.
Rarely, some people experience neurological symptoms including depression or suicidal thoughts while taking Carbamazepine. Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects.
Carbamazepine can also cause serious allergic reactions. The risk for allergic reactions is highest among people with Asian ancestry. If you are taking Carbamazepine, get medical help immediately if you experience a rash, difficulty breathing or swelling of the face, throat, eyes, lips, or tongue.
For answers to frequently asked questions about exposure to Carbamazepine during pregnancy and breastfeeding, visit the experts at MothertoBaby.org.