Brand names of ethosuximide

  • Zarontin

Alpha-ethyl-alpha-methyl succinimide is the designated chemical name for ethosuximide which is used as an anti-convulsing medication. The medication is used to control a seizure known as the petit mal or absence seizure. Ethosuximide is given sometimes with other medication too.

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Things you need to tell your physician before taking ethosuximide

Before the doctor starts you on ethosuximide he has to know whether you are allergic to it or its derivate methsuximide (Celontin) or any other medication you might have taken previously.

The doctor should also know what prescription and non-prescription drugs you are presently taking including vitamins, herbal products or any nutritional supplements.
It is vital for your doctor to know if you are taking antidepressants or any other seizure medications like valproic acid (Depakote or Depakene) and phenytoin (Dilantin). Mention also any sedatives, tranquilizers or sleeping pills or pain medication you might be taking. In accordance with these medications your doctor could advise a change in dosage and also will monitor you for side-effects.

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Certain conditions you might be in should also be mentioned to your doctor like if you are pregnant or breast feeding. You should also mention if you desire to have a baby and in case you do get pregnant inform the doctor right away. Also mention if you have ever suffered any kidney or liver disease and if you have had any mental illness. In case you need surgery mention to your surgeon that you are taking ethosuximide. You need to inform the dentist that you are on ethosuximide in case you need dental surgery.

Ethosuximide sometimes has a drowsy affect and so the patient should not drive a car or operate machinery. Find out also from your doctor if alcohol is safe to take with ethosuximide.

Ethosuximide sometimes alters the mental health of a patient and the patients think of harming themselves. Clinical tests were conducted on patients being treated with ethosuximide for some conditions. During the tests it was observed that some patients including children above 5 years became suicidal. Patients became suicidal as early as one week after treatment with this antiepileptic. Taking ethosuximide could be risky as it could alter your mental health but there could be the same risk if your condition is left untreated for long. A discussion with the doctor could help decide whether the risk of not taking ethosuximide is greater than in taking the drug.

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Some of the conditions that call for immediate consultation with the doctor are, if you experience agitation and restlessness, panic attacks, any irritability that is new or marked, anxiety, depression, loss of interest, if there is insomnia or if the patient is acting on dangerous impulses, any behaviour that is aggressive, violent, manic and angry. Any signs of suicidal behaviour like withdrawing from social interactions, mood swings, preoccupation with death or giving away prized possessions or any other change in behaviour and also mood, need to be reported. Make sure that your family or caregiver is aware of these symptoms if you are unable to find help by yourself.


Certain type of epileptic seizures can be controlled with ethosuximide.

How to use ethosuximide

The doctor will give you directions about how much medication to take as dosage is based on the weight, age, medical condition of patient and levels of ethosuximide in the blood. Children are also given the drug keeping their weight in mind. Whatever be the dosage you need to take it exactly how the doctor instructed you to take it, with or without food. The medication is usually taken orally in the mornings. The liquid form of the medicine should not be measured with a household spoon but a proper measuring device should be used to measure the exact dosage. Doctor's instructions need to be followed exactly.

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At first the doctor begins with a small dosage and for the doctor to decide on the best dosage that will benefit you it can take several weeks and months. Also the patient has to be regular with the drug for it to show results. It is best to take the medication at the same time each day. Once you have started taking ethosuximide the medication should not be stopped without consulting the doctor as your condition could become worse when it is stopped suddenly. The dosage is usually reduced gradually. The doctor should be told if your condition remains static or deteriorates.

How ethosuximide works

Ethosuximide is used to lower the activity of some parts of the brain. It also helps to reduce the nerve impulses that come from the nerve cells from making abnormal transmissions that cause absence seizures. The medication actually works on the central nervous system so that seizures are reduced in number and severity.

Side effects

  • sore throat
  • swollen glands
  • blistering or peeling skin lesions
  • easy bruising
  • weakness
  • lethargy
  • fever
  • red or purple point like rash on the skin or mucous membranes
  • muscle pain
  • mouth sores
  • paleness
  • confusion
  • seizures may be a sign of a potentially fatal blood reaction or other complication
Less common

Possible interactions

Ethosuximide must not be combined with herbal medications like valerian and kava kava as they could cause drowsiness. If taken with alcohol the patient could show sedative effects and what is worse the combination could set off the seizures.


If the medication needs to be stopped ask your physician before stopping it. He would probably advice a gradual reduction of the dosage.

Storage instructions

Ethosuximide is best stored away from light and moisture at room temperature at 77°F which is 25°Celsius. For brief periods it can be stored between 59-86°F (15-30°Celsius). The medication should not be stored in the bathroom and should be kept out of reach of children and pets. Once the medication is no longer required or has passed the expiry period it must not be flushed down the toilet or poured into drains unless instructed to do so. The local pharmacist or waste disposal company could give you suggestions of how to dispose the medicine safely.


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