Phenobarbital for Epilepsy | MyEpilepsyTeam

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Phenobarbital is a prescription medication that has been sold since 1912 for the treatment of seizures. In people with epilepsy, Phenobarbital is used to prevent all types of seizures except absence seizures, and to control some types of acute seizures in emergency situations.

Phenobarbital should not be used in people with a history of porphyria, barbiturate dependence, or hypersensitivity to Phenobarbital. Phenobarbital should be used with caution in people with a history of liver disease or respiratory problems, or who are elderly, depressed, or experiencing suicidal thoughts. Phenobarbital is not be suitable for use by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Phenobarbital is a barbiturate, a class of drugs that depress the central nervous system. Phenobarbital is used as an anticonvulsant, or drug that prevents seizures. It is believed that Phenobarbital works in cases of epilepsy by inhibiting nerve signals.

How do I take it?
As maintenance medication, Phenobarbital is taken orally as a tablet or a liquid one to three times a day. As an emergency medication, Phenobarbital may be administered by injection.

Avoid driving or operating machinery until you are certain you understand how Phenobarbital affects you.

Phenobarbital can cause deficiencies in the nutrients folic acid, Vitamin D, and calcium. Ask your doctor whether you need to take supplements. If you take calcium supplements, take them at least two hours before or after taking Phenobarbital.

Phenobarbital 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 Phenobarbital.

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

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

A 2012 article examined the current and future role of Phenobarbital based on clinical studies published since 2000. Researchers concluded that Phenobarbital is as effective a monotherapy for epilepsy as Phenytoin and Carbamazepine. Findings also indicated that Phenobarbital is tolerated as well by most people with epilepsy as other anticonvulsive medications.

Side effects
Phenobarbital can be habit-forming.

Common side effects of Phenobarbital include fatigue, sleepiness, depression, trouble focusing, problems with memory, anxiety, excitation, decreased sexual interest and ability, slurred speech, stomach upset, rash, and fever. Some of these side effects may fade as your body acclimates to Phenobarbital.

Long-term use of Phenobarbital may result in weakening of the bones, joint pain, and thickening of soft tissues such as the soles or palms.

Call your doctor if you experience fainting, staggering, double vision, slow heartbeat, shallow breathing, or unusual bruising or bleeding while taking Phenobarbital.

Rarely, some people experience neurological symptoms including depression or suicidal thoughts while taking Phenobarbital. 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.

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