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Dilantin is a prescription medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) more than 50 years ago for the treatment of seizures. In people with epilepsy, Dilantin is most effective for partial onset and tonic-clonic seizures. Dilantin may be referred to by its drug name, Phenytoin. Phenytoin is also sold under the brand name Phenytek.

Dilantin should not be used in people with Stokes–Adams syndrome or certain heart problems, including sino-atrial block, sinus bradycardia, and second- or third-degree atrioventricular blocks. Dilantin must be used with caution in people with a history of other heart problems, hypotension, liver damage, blood disorders, alcohol abuse, or porphyria. Dilantin may not be suitable for use by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Dilantin is not appropriate for people who have shown a past hypersensitivity to Phenytoin or other drugs in the same class, hydantoins.

Dilantin is an anticonvulsant, or drug that prevents seizures. It is believed that Dilantin works in cases of epilepsy by slowing down nerve signals.

How do I take it?
Dilantin may be taken either as emergency or maintenance medication. As an emergency medication, Dilantin may be administered intravenously. As a maintenance medication, Dilantin may be initiated with an intravenous loading dose, and then taken orally as a capsule or liquid suspension every six to eight hours. In rare circumstances, Dilantin may also be injected intramuscularly.

Do not stop taking Dilantin suddenly. If you decide to stop taking Dilantin, consult your physician for a plan to taper off gradually.

Always follow your doctor’s instructions exactly when taking Dilantin.

A 2013 article reviewed existing studies comparing the effectiveness of Phenytoin (Dilantin) with that of Valproic acid (Depakene) for partial onset seizures or generalized onset tonic-clonic seizures. The review included five studies involving a total of 669 participants. Researchers did not find a statistical difference between the results for participants who took Phenytoin or those who took Valproic acid.

Side effects
People with Chinese ancestry may experience some side effects of Dilantin more intensely.

Common side effects of Dilantin include drowsiness, dizziness, nervousness, insomnia, constipation, vomiting, nausea, slurred speech, memory problems, and swollen or tender gums. Some side effects go away after a few days or weeks on Dilantin.

Long-term use of Dilantin may result in weakening of the bones. People who are taking Dilantin long-term should be sure to exercise regularly and consider taking calcium and Vitamin D supplements. If you take calcium supplements, take them at least two hours before or after taking Dilantin.

Call your doctor if you experience chest pain, irregular heartbeat, tremors, pain in your upper stomach, dark urine, yellowing skin or eyes, a skin rash, or signs of infection such as fever, sore throat, and cough while taking Dilantin.

Dilantin 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 Dilantin.

Rarely, some people experience neurological symptoms including depression or suicidal thoughts while taking Dilantin. Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects.

Many drugs can cause allergic reactions that, in the most serious cases, can result in death. Seek immediate medical help if you experience signs of a severe allergic reaction such as difficulty breathing or swelling in the face, throat, eyes, lips or tongue.

Dilantin (Phenytoin) for Epilepsy Questions

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