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Carbamazepine

Brand names of carbamazepine

  • Apo-Carbamazepine
  • Carbitrol Extended Release
  • Dom-Carbamazepine-CR
  • Epitol
  • Gen-Carbamazepine
  • Mazepine
  • Novo-Carbamaz
  • Nu-Carbamazepine
  • PMS Carbamazepine
  • Taro-Carbamazepine
  • Tegretol
  • Tegretol Chewable Tablet
  • Tegretol-CR
  • Tegretol-XR

Carbamazepine is an anti-convulsion medicament used to treat seizures. In fact, recurring seizures (also known as epilepsy) are classified under two major groups depending on the extent of involvement of our brain - partial epilepsy and generalized epilepsy. The latter condition comprises petit mal epilepsy, grand mal epilepsy in addition to myoclonic epilepsy. Seizures are said to be ‘simple’ in case the sufferer does not lose cognizance, while it is ‘complex’ when one loses consciousness. The anti-seizure drug carbamazepine acts in the form of an anti-convulsant in the case of partial as well as grand mal epilepsy by means of lessening or obstructing specific reactions within the brain. In addition, carbamazepine is also employed for coping with trigeminal neuralgia.

Things you need to tell your physician before taking carbamazepine

Prior to starting treatment with carbamazepine, you need to let your physician or pharmacist know whether you have any allergic reaction to this drug; any of its elements; any other anti-seizure medicament, (for instance phenytoin, phenobarbital); any tricyclic anti-depressant drug (for instance, desipramine, amitriptyline); or any additional type of allergy. It is possible that carbamazepine will include several elements that may lead to allergies or further health disorders. Therefore, ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients in carbamazepine and also seek his advice and guidance in this regard.

Individuals having specific health conditions should not use carbamazepine. Before you take this drug for the first time, you need to tell your physician if you are suffering from any specific problem related to blood (for instance, severe intermittent porphyria) or a diminished functioning of the bone marrow (for instance, bone marrow depression). Also inform your pharmacist and physician about your entire medical history prior to taking this medication, particularly if you have or ever had high blood pressure (hypertension); ailments related to the blood vessel; blood clots; heart ailments (for instance, congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease or problems related to the heartbeat/ conduction); glaucoma (an ailment of the eyes); any ailment related to the liver and/ or kidneys; specific kind of seizures (for instance, atypical absence seizure); mood or mental disorders; and/ or any history related to diminished functioning of the bone marrow owing to use of other medications.

If you are planning to use carbamazepine for your condition, you ought to know that this medication may cause drowsiness and dizziness. Therefore, it is advisable that you should not use a machine or drive a car or undertake any job requiring attentiveness till you are certain about the impact of the drug on your body and the time when you are sure that you can execute the tasks safely.

People taking carbamazepine should essentially restrict their use of alcoholic beverages or take alcohol in a different form. In addition, you should know that this drug may possibly result in photosensitivity. Hence, take care not to be outside in the sun for a long period. Also avoid using sunlamps and tanning booths. When you need to go outdoors in the sun, you should always wear protective garments and make use of a good sunscreen.

This medication should be given to pregnant women strictly when it is essential for their condition, for it has the aptitude to harm the fetus. Nevertheless, in case a woman is already taking carbamazepine, she should continue taking this medication till her physician asks her to do so, because if seizures are not treated timely, they may not only harm the pregnant woman, but also the stillborn child. It is essential for women to tell their physician in advance if they are planning to become pregnant, are already pregnant or think that they may possibly be pregnant. In case a woman becomes pregnant or thinks she is pregnant while undergoing therapy with carbamazepine, she should contact her physician right away and discuss the hazards and benefits of taking this medication in such condition. Provided a woman has become pregnant while taking carbamazepine, she should essentially undergo prenatal care comprising examinations to detect defects. It has been found that usually oral contraceptives (pills), implants, patches and even injections do not work while taking carbamazepine, it is necessary for women to consult their physician regarding birth control measures that are dependable in this situation.

It has been found that carbamazepine flows into the breast milk. Hence, new mothers taking this medication ought to talk to their physician prior to breast feeding.

Usage

Carbamazepine is used to regulate specific seizure types attributable to epilepsy. In addition, this medication is also given for treating facial pain in patients with trigeminal neuralgia (also called tic douloureux). Acute mania and bipolar disorder are also treated with this anti-seizure drug.

How to use carbamazepine

Carbamazepine is available in various forms, including, tablets, extended-release (also known as long-acting) capsules and tablets, chewable tablets, and also as a suspension or liquid. The usual and chewable tablets, plus the suspension are generally taken with meals anything between twice and four times every day. Although the extended-release tablet is also taken with meals, it is usually taken twice daily. On the other hand, the extended-release capsules are also taken twice daily, but with or with no meals. It is advisable that you take this medication at identical times of the day daily, as it will help you to remember that you have to take it. In addition, it is important that you closely follow the instructions on the prescription label, and in case you fail to understand any direction or have any query, seek the help of your pharmacist or physician. You ought to take this medication strictly as you have been directed by your physician. You should neither take this medication in excess or less dosage nor use it more frequently than what your physician has prescribed.

The extended-release carbamazepine tablet should be swallowed as a whole. Never chew, break or crush these tablets. You may, however, open the extended-release carbamazepine capsules and sprinkle their contents on foods like one teaspoonful of applesauce or foods akin to it, provided you find it difficult to swallow them. It is advisable that you don’t chew or crush these capsules or their bead-like contents.

Generally, your physician will begin your treatment with a low dosage of carbamazepine and increase it gradually.

It is worth mentioning here that carbamazepine may possibly aid in regulating your health condition, but it does not cure the condition. The benefits of this medication cannot be experienced immediately, but you will be able to notice improvement in your condition after a few weeks’ of treatment with this medicament. Even though you start feeling better after taking carbamazepine for some time, don’t discontinue this medication, but take it for the full prescribed period. In fact, you should never stop taking carbamazepine abruptly or without consulting your physician even in case you undergo the side effects of this medication like abnormal changes in your behaviour or mood. In case you are suffering from a seizure problem and you stop taking this medication all of a sudden, it is likely that the seizures will deteriorate further. Before you discontinue carbamazepine, your physician may possibly reduce the dose of medication gradually.

How carbamazepine works

It seems that carbamazepine works by impeding the neurons from repetitive as well as unmanageable firing, which is responsible for occurrences of seizures.

Side effects

Serious:
Common:
Less common:

Possible interactions

Herbal medicines or minerals:
As specific herbal remedies as well as mineral supplements may interact with carbamazepine, they should never be used in combination. For instance, use of herbs like ma huang and kola while undergoing treatment with this drug may stimulate the central nervous system unbearably. In addition, ginseng may also partially work in the way as an MAO (monoamine oxidase), you should never use it in conjunction with carbamazepine. Kava kava and valerian may also interact to augment sleepiness. St. John’s wort is also likely to result in enhanced photosensitivity, therefore, you should be cautious while using this herb in combination with carbamazepine.
Exposure to sun:
As the use of carbamazepine may possibly result in sensitivity to the sun, you need to exercise adequate precautions till you are certain about your photosensitivity.
Heavy exercise or exertion:
People using carbamazepine and also having coronary artery disease should exercise precaution, because this medication may possibly aggravate angina and also diminish your endurance for physical activities. Therefore, it is advisable that you avoid rigorous activities or undertaking heavy exercises.

Discontinuation

Provided you are using carbamazepine to treat trigeminal neuralgia it is necessary to endeavour lessening the maintenance dosage or to discontinue this medication every three months. On the other hand, if this drug is being used to regulate epilepsy, you should never discontinue carbamazepine all of a sudden.

Storage instructions

Carbamazepine should always be kept in a place that is cool plus dry. You need to ensure that this medication is not stored in damp conditions. For instance, never keep this drug in your bathroom’s medicine cabinet, because this will lessen the strength of the branded as well as generic forms of carbamazepine considerably.

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