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Updated 11 February 2013

Carbamazepine

Carbamazepine is an anticonvulsant drug, prescribed to control the seizures caused by some types of epilepsy.

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Carbamazepine is the active ingredient of Tegretol, Degranol and Sandoz-Carbamazepine.

General Information

Carbamazepine is an anticonvulsant drug, prescribed to control the seizures caused by some types of epilepsy. It is not effective in treating absent-seizures (petit-mal epilepsy).

Carbamazepine is also used to treat certain types of severe nerve pain such as trigeminal neuralgia, pain as a result of nerve trauma, as well as nerve pain associated with diabetes and herpes infections.

This medication has a mood stabilising effect and has been successfully used in the preventative treatment of manic depression.

Carbamazepine should be taken with food to improve absorption and to prevent gastro-intestinal upsets.

How does carbamazepine work?

Carbamazepine is thought to work by controlling abnormal neuron firing, responsible for uncontrolled nerve signal in the brain, which may cause seizures.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: Schedule 3

Available as: Carbamazepine is available as tablets, controlled release tablets and suspension.

What does it do? Carbamazepine has an anti-seizure, nerve-pain relieving and mood stabilising effect.

Overdose risk: Medium

Dependence risk: Low

Is carbamazepine available as a generic? Yes

Is carbamazepine available on prescription only? Yes

User information

Onset of effect: Within 4 hours

Duration of action: Up to 24 hours

Dietary advice: Carbamazepine should be taken with food to improve absorption and to prevent gastro-intestinal upsets.

Stopping this medicine: Consult your doctor before stopping this drug, as symptoms may recur on premature discontinuation.

Prolonged use: Prolonged use holds little risk. Your doctor may perform periodic liver and kidney function tests.

Special precautions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

  • you have liver or kidney disease
  • you have heart disease
  • you have diabetes
  • you have a blood disorder
  • you have glaucoma
  • you are taking other medication.

Pregnancy: Avoid. Potential risk to the foetus has been reported. Consult your doctor before use, or if you are planning to fall pregnant.

Breastfeeding: Avoid. This medication is passed through breast milk and may affect your baby adversely. Consult your doctor before use.

Porphyria: Avoid. This medication may cause serious adverse effects. Consult your doctor before use.

Infants and children: This medication is safe for use in children at the recommended dose.

Elderly: Caution is advised in the elderly, and a reduced dose may be needed

Driving and hazardous work: This medication should be avoided, as it may cause extreme sedation.

Alcohol: Avoid concomitant use of alcohol with this medication, as sedative effects may be increased.

Possible side effects:

Side effect

Frequency

Consult your doctor

Common

Rare

Only if severe

In all cases

Drowsiness

x

x

Dizziness

x

x

Rash/ itchy skin

x

x

Nausea/ vomiting

x

x

Stomach pain

x

x

Diarrhoea/ constipation

x

x

Loss of appetite

x

x

Impaired speech

x

x

Blurred vision

x

x

Fever

x

x

Sore throat

x

x

Weakness

x

Interactions:

Drug interactions:

Warfarin

Reduced effect of warfarin

Diltiazem/Verapamil/Nifedipine

Increased risk of Carbamazepine toxicity

Cimetidine

Increased risk of carbamazepine toxicity

Cyclosporin

Reduced effect of cyclosporin

Erythromycin

Increased risk of carbamazepine toxicity

Lithium/fluoxetine

Increased risk of carbamazepine toxicity

Oral contraceptives

Possible reduced contraceptive effect

Other medications

May cause interactions - speak to your doctor before use.

Disease interactions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if you have liver or kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, or if you have glaucoma.

Overdose action

A small overdose is no cause for concern. In case of intentional large overdose, seek emergency medical attention. Symptoms may include confusion, loss of consciousness, or convulsions.

Recommended dosage

Adults:

Epilepsy: 100 - 600 mg twice a day (Max dose: 1600 mg/day)

Pain: 100 - 600 mg twice a day (Max dose: 1200 mg/day)

Mood stabiliser: 100 - 600 mg twice a day (Max dose: 1600 mg/day)

Children younger than 15:

Epilepsy: 100 - 400 mg twice a day (Max 1000 mg/day)

Children younger than 6:

Epilepsy: 10-20 mg/kg/day in 2-3 doses (Max 400 mg/day)

Children younger than 1: Max 100-200 mg/day

Epilepsy: 100 - 400 mg twice a day (Max 1000 mg/day)

 
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