In this session, we will be discussing the consumer medication information for carbamazepine, trade name TegretolTM.
What it’s for & How to take
Carbamazepine is an anti-seizure medication. This medication works by decreasing nerve signals in the brain. This process helps restore normal nerve activity.
Carbamazepine is used to prevent and control seizures. This medication is also used to treat a certain type of nerve pain called trigeminal neuralgia and is also sometimes used to help treat bipolar disorder.
This medication is sometimes used to treat other conditions. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist if you are prescribed this medication to treat something that is not listed here.
Carbamazepine is usually taken 2-4 times daily and should be taken with a full glass of water. This medication may be taken with or without food. Take your dose at evenly spaced intervals to maintain a constant level of medication in your body. Your doctor may gradually increase your dose over a few weeks to a couple months.
Your dose is based on your condition and response to treatment. Do not stop taking this medication without talking with your doctor first. Some conditions may worsen if this medication is stopped quickly.
If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of your next dose, skip it and continue with your normal dose time. Do not take a double dose to make up the missed dose.
Most Important Warnings
- Serious, sometimes fatal, skin reactions have been reported with this medication. This risk is increased in Asian patients. There is a test that can be done before you start this medication to see if you are more likely to get the skin rash. Talk with your doctor about this before beginning treatment with carbamazepine.
- Carbamazepine may decrease the number of blood cells your body produces. This decrease may cause serious health problems. Your doctor will have you do regular lab tests to check your blood. Do not miss your lab appointments. Call your doctor right away if you have any signs of infection such as sore throat, fever, chills, mouth sores or a rash.
Other Warnings & Cautions
- While taking carbamazepine, a small number of people may experience depression or suicidal thoughts. Let your doctor know if you or your family notices any unusual changes in your mood.
- Avoid eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice while taking carbamazepine. Grapefruit may increase the level of this medication in your body and cause dangerous side effects.
- You are more likely to get a sunburn while taking this medication. If you can’t stay out of the sun, cover up with clothing and sunscreen.
- This medication may make you dizzy, drowsy, or blur your vision. Do not drive or do any activity that requires focus and attention until you are sure you can do them safely. Avoid alcoholic beverages while taking carbamazepine.
- Carbamazepine decreases the effectiveness of hormonal birth control, including pills, patches, implants and injections. If you are of childbearing age, talk with your doctor or pharmacist about a non-hormonal method of birth control while you are taking this medication.
- Infants born to mothers who are taking carbamazepine are at risk. This medication should only be used during pregnancy when the benefit to the mother is greater than the risk to the unborn baby. This medication passes into breast milk. Talk with your doctor before breastfeeding while taking carbamazepine.
Interactions & Side Effects
- Tell your pharmacist or doctor all your medication allergies so they may determine if carbamazepine is safe for you to take.
- Avoid dangerous drug interactions. This medication interacts with your liver and may interact with many other medications. Tell your pharmacist or doctor all the other medication you are taking, including over the counter supplements, even if you don’t take them very often.
- Ask your doctor if this medication is safe to take with your current health conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any vision problems, liver or kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, or a history of depression or alcohol abuse. Make sure your doctor is aware if you have a history of any bone marrow or blood disorder.
- While taking carbamazepine, you may feel some drowsiness, blurred vision, nervousness or a headache. If these or any other unwanted side effects persist, contact your doctor or pharmacist to talk about it with them.
- Call your doctor right away if you have any swelling of the ankles or feet, confusion, irregular heartbeat, slurred speech, tingling of the hands or feet, swollen face, or unusual eye movements. Also, call your doctor if you have any signs of infection such as sore throat, fever, chills, mouth sores or a rash.
- Call emergency 911 if you have any symptoms of a heart attack such as chest and left arm pain, shortness of breath and sweating or if you have symptoms of a stroke such as weakness on one side of your body, slurred speech, sudden vision changes, and confusion.
If you have any questions about what you have heard, contact your pharmacist or doctor. This session does not include all potential interactions or side effects that this medication may cause. Ask your pharmacist how your medication should be stored and how you should dispose of it when you are done taking it. Do not share your medication with anyone, ever. Remember, this is not meant to replace your counseling session with your own pharmacist. In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.