What You Should Know About Carbamazepine
What is Carbamazepine?
It is used to prevent seizures from occurring in people who may be predisposed to these events.
Rare but Serious Dangers of Carbamazepine
These are serious skin conditions. They usually present with a rash and flu-like symptoms including a fever. SJS and TEN can be fatal if not caught and treated quickly. There are also serious drug reactions that can occur, such as “drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms” (DRESS) which presents as a fever, rash, and can have involvement of various other organs.
There is also the possibility of experiencing reduced white and/or red blood cell production while taking carbamazepine. This can be detected with blood tests, which is why it is important to get frequent bloodwork during the first few weeks of taking carbamazepine as well as regularly throughout the time you are on the medication.
Typical Side Effects of Carbamazepine
Side effects with carbamazepine are relatively common, especially during the first few weeks of taking the medication. Because of this, the medication is typically started at a relatively low dose and increased slowly if tolerated well.
The most common side effects experienced while taking carbamazepine include:
- Poor muscle control/unsteadiness
Drugs That Interact with Carbamazepine
This is usually due to either carbamazepine increasing or decreasing the concentration of the other drug in your body, or vice versa. It can either increase the concentration of the medication to toxic levels or decrease its effectiveness in your body.
Some of the medications that are absolutely contraindicated with carbamazepine use include:
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
There are many, many more medications that interact with carbamazepine. Be sure to speak with your healthcare provider about any and all prescription medications, over the counter medications, and supplements you may be taking before you start taking carbamazepine.
Can I Take Carbamazepine if I Am Pregnant or Breastfeeding?
The drug crosses the placenta from the mother’s blood to the fetal blood. Its use during pregnancy has been associated with fetal malformations, including spine, brain, and heart defects. You should inform your healthcare provider if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant while on carbamazepine.
There is less of a firm boundary with breastfeeding while taking carbamazepine. The medication is excreted in breastmilk. However, it is not thought that there are serious long-term risks involved with infant exposure to carbamazepine in breastmilk.
- Focal Onset Aware Seizures (Simple Partial Seizures). (2022). Retrieved 1 October 2022, from www.epilepsy.com
- Tegretol (carbamazepine) – Access data FDA-Approved Drugs [Internet]. [Amended 09/2015; accessed 11/2022].