Phenobarbital is basically a barbiturate (a derivative of barbituric acid) that also happens to be the most extensively employed anticonvulsant all over the world. It is also the oldest anti-seizure medicament that is used commonly even in current times. In addition to being an effective anticonvulsant, phenobarbital also possesses tranquilizing as well as hypnotic attributes. In effect, the World Health Organization (WHO) has endorsed the use of phenobarbital in the form of a first-line or most important medication for partial as well as generalized tonic or clonic seizures (earlier called grand mal) in the developing nations. However, this drug is not endorsed for first-line or second-line anticonvulsant option for treating majority types of seizures in the developed nations any more. However, even in the developed nations physicians still continue to frequently employ phenobarbital for treating neonatal seizures.
Prior to commencing therapy with phenobarbital, you should notify your physician as well as pharmacist if you have allergic reactions to this medication; to any other barbiturate (for instance, secobarbital, primidone); or have any other allergy. Phenobarbital may probably enclose specific inactive elements that may result in allergies or further health problems. Therefore, consult your physician to learn about all the ingredients of phenobarbital.
Before you take phenobarbital for the very first time, you need to let your physician and/ or pharmacist know about your total medical history, particularly regarding liver and kidney problems; problems related to specific hormones (diseases related to the adrenal gland like Addison's disease); any ailment related to the lungs (for instance, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - also called COPD, sleep apnea); deficiencies of specific vitamins (vitamin K, folic acid); mood or mental problems (depression or suicidal thoughts); family or individual history related to particular blood disorder (for instance, porphyria); and/ or any history related to heavy consumption of alcoholic beverages or substance abuse.
Phenobarbital has the potential to cause drowsiness or dizziness and, hence, never drive, operate a machine or undertake any activity that needs you to be alert till time you are assured about the effects of the drug on you and when you can accomplish the activities in a safe manner. Also keep away from alcoholic beverages while undergoing therapy with phenobarbital.
Phenobarbital elixir (liquid) may possibly enclose sugar or alcohol and, therefore, it is advisable that you exercise caution while taking it provided you are enduring diabetes, any liver ailment, alcohol dependence or any additional health problem that necessitates restriction or avoidance of such stuff in your food. Consult your physician or your pharmacist regarding the safe use of phenobarbital.
If you are taking phenobarbital and need to have any type of surgery ensure that you notify your surgeon/ physician and/ or dentist that you are using this medicament. In addition, tell them about all the prescription as well as over-the-counter drugs, herbal products, dietary supplements and vitamins you are already taking.
Elderly people using phenobarbital ought to be additionally cautious because they are likely to be more susceptible to the actions of this drug, particularly light-headedness and stupor. Nevertheless, often this medication may also lead to exhilaration and/ or confusion rather than drowsiness in elderly patients. Even children are likely to be more susceptible to the effects of phenobarbital. As in the case of older adults, even children may also experience confusion and/ or excitement instead of light-headedness as a result of the drug's side effects.
Women should not use phenobarbital during pregnancy, as it may harm the fetus. However, if they are already taking this medication since before pregnancy they should continue using it till their physician asks them to stop taking it, because if seizures are not treated they may result in a grave condition and harm the mother as well as the fetus. In case a woman is pregnant before taking this drug, is planning to become pregnant while taking it or think that she has become pregnant during the course of treatment with phenobarbital, they should immediately contact their physician to discuss the advantages as well as the risks of taking this drug when they are pregnant. It has been found that usually using contraceptive pills, implants, patches and even taking injections are not effective while using phenobarbital, it is essential to consult your physician regarding the use of dependable birth control measures.
Using phenobarbital may possibly bring down the levels of vitamin K and folic acid, thereby enhancing the chances of developing flaws in the spinal cord. Hence, ask your physician to confirm whether you are having sufficient amounts of vitamin K and folic acid. In addition, you should know that children born to women who have been taking phenobarbital during their pregnancy may possibly experience a number of symptoms, including bleeding, trembling and fussiness. In case you observe any of the symptoms mentioned here in your infant, get in touch with your physician right away and tell him/ her about it.
It has been found that phenobarbital goes into the breast milk and may often result in the nursing baby experiencing too much drowsiness or problems related to feeding. Therefore, prior to breast feeding, new mothers should always take the advice of their physician.
Phenobarbital is mainly employed for the purpose of sedation prior to any surgery as well as to regulate specific seizure types. However, these days phenobarbital is not used as much for interim treatment of sleeplessness (insomnia), as various latest medications that help induce sleep are currently available now.
Phenobarbital is sold in a tablet as well as an elixir (fluid) form and is taken by the mouth. Normally, phenobarbital is taken anything between once and three times every day. You should take this drug regularly and according to your physician's instructions. Strictly abide by the instructions on the prescription label and if you fail to understand anything or have any query, seek the help of your pharmacist or physician.
Provided you are taking phenobarbital for a prolonged period of time, it is possible that this medicament will no longer regulate your symptoms as effectively as it had done when you had started therapy with this medicament. Therefore, you should talk to your physician regarding how you might be feeling during the course of the treatment. You should know that prolonged use of this medication may possibly become an addiction or at least a habit for you. Therefore, it is advisable that you never take this drug in excess, for a more extended period or more frequently than what your physician has prescribed.
Never discontinue phenobarbital without consulting your physician, for stopping this medicament abruptly may possibly cause you to undergo a number of withdrawal symptoms, for instance, vomiting, queasiness, nervousness, twitching of muscles, debility, alterations in eyesight, seizures, light-headedness, overwhelming trembling of a section of your body, problems in getting sleep or remaining asleep, confusion and/ or even fainting when you try to raise from a lying position. When you experience any such symptom, your physician is most likely to reduce your dosage of phenobarbital slowly.
All barbiturates, including phenobarbital, function in the form of potent sedatives by way of impeding the actions inside the central nervous system (CNS), which includes the brain as well as spinal cord.
Provided you are taking phenobarbital in the form an anticonvulsant, you should not discontinue it abruptly. Stopping the use of this medication all of a sudden may possibly hasten status epilepticus (a condition also called repetitive seizures). It is advisable that prior to discontinuing phenobarbital, you should decrease its dose gradually through three months. You may stop taking this medication totally three years to five years after you have suffered the last seizure. Nevertheless, it has been found that seizures usually happen again in 40 per cent of adults and as many as 20 per cent to 30 per cent children who had been affected by this health condition.
Phenobarbital should be stored in the container in which it was bought. Seal the container tightly and keep it in a place inaccessible to children. Always store this medicament at the usual room temperature and in a place that is free from excessive humidity and heat. Your bathroom is never the right place to store this medication. Discard all medicaments that have become outdated or used no more in a safe and appropriate manner. If required, seek the help of your pharmacist regarding the safe mode to dispose of such medications.