What is carbamazepine?
Carbamazepine is in a group of drugs called anticonvulsants. It works by decreasing nerve impulses that cause seizures and pain.
Carbamazepine is used to treat seizures and nerve pain such as trigeminal neuralgia and diabetic neuropathy. Carbamazepine is also used to treat bipolar disorder.
Carbamazepine may also be used for other purposes not listed in this medication guide.
You should not use this medication if you are allergic to carbamazepine or to certain antidepressants such as amitriptyline (Elavil), clomipramine (Anafranil), imipramine (Tofranil), and others.
Do not use carbamazepine if you have used an MAO inhibitor such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), rasagiline (Azilect), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam), or tranylcypromine (Parnate) within the past 14 days.
You should not take carbamazepine if you have a history of bone marrow suppression, or if you are also taking nefazodone.
Before taking carbamazepine, tell your doctor if you are allergic to any drugs, or if you have:
- a history of serious side effects from any drug;
- liver or kidney disease;
- heart disease or heart block;
- a history of mental illness; or
If you have any of these conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests to safely take carbamazepine.
You may have thoughts about suicide while taking this medication. Tell your doctor if you have new or worsening depression or suicidal thoughts during the first several months of treatment, or whenever your dose is changed.
Your family or other caregivers should also be alert to changes in your mood or symptoms. Your doctor will need to check you at regular visits. Do not miss any scheduled appointments.
Patients of Asian ancestry may have a higher risk of developing a rare but serious skin reaction to carbamazepine. Your doctor may recommend a blood test before you start the medication to determine your risk of this skin reaction.
FDA pregnancy category D. Do not use carbamazepine without telling your doctor if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment.
Carbamazepine can make birth control pills less effective. Ask your doctor about using a non-hormone method of birth control (such as a condom, diaphragm, spermicide) to prevent pregnancy while taking carbamazepine.
Carbamazepine can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.
Carbamazepine can cause side effects that may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert.
Avoid drinking alcohol. It can increase some of the side effects of carbamazepine, and can also increase your risk of seizures.
Avoid exposure to sunlight or artificial UV rays (sunlamps or tanning beds). Carbamazepine can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight and sunburn may result. Use a sunscreen (minimum SPF 15) and wear protective clothing if you must be out in the sun.
Cold or allergy medicine, narcotic pain medicine, sleeping pills, muscle relaxers, other seizure medicines, and medicine for depression or anxiety can add to sleepiness caused by carbamazepine. Tell your doctor if you regularly use any of these other medicines.
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Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine. Overdose symptoms may include shallow breathing, fast heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, urinating less or not at all, muscle twitches, restlessness, tremors, slurred speech, staggering walk, and feeling light-headed or fainting.
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take the medicine at the next regularly scheduled time. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
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Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor at once if you have any new or worsening symptoms such as: mood or behavior changes, depression, anxiety, or if you feel agitated, hostile, restless, hyperactive (mentally or physically), or have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself.
Call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:
- fever, sore throat, and headache with a severe blistering, peeling, and red skin rash;
- pale skin, easy bruising or bleeding, unusual weakness;
- white patches or sores inside your mouth or on your lips;
- feeling short of breath, swelling of your ankles or feet;
- nausea, stomach pain, loss of appetite, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes); or
- urinating less than usual.
Less serious side effects may include:
- feeling dizzy, drowsy, or unsteady;
- vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain;
- confusion, headache, blurred vision;
- ringing in your ears;
- dry mouth, swollen tongue; or
- joint or muscle pain, leg cramps.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Tell your doctor about any unusual or bothersome side effect. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
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There are many other medicines that could cause a drug interaction if you take them together with carbamazepine. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor. Keep a list with you of all the medicines you use and show this list to any doctor or other healthcare provider who treats you.
Carbatrol, Equetro, Tegretol, Tegretol XR, carbamazepine, and Epitol
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