- What is carbamazepine, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for carbamazepine?
- Is carbamazepine available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for carbamazepine?
- What are the side effects of carbamazepine?
- What is the dosage for carbamazepine?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with carbamazepine?
- Is carbamazepine safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about carbamazepine?
What is carbamazepine, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Carbamazepine is an anti-seizure medication. Recurrent seizures (epilepsy) are divided into two main categories according to how much of the brain is involved, either partial or generalized epilepsy (which includes petit mal, grand mal, and myoclonic epilepsy). Seizures are called "simple" if there is no loss of consciousness and "complex" if there is. Medicines that inhibit seizures are called anti-convulsants. Carbamazepine works as an anti-convulsant for partial and grand mal seizures by reducing or blocking certain responses by nerves in the brain. It also is used for treating trigeminal neuralgia. One dosage form, Equetro, has been approved for treating bipolar disorder. The FDA approved carbamazepine in March 1968.
What brand names are available for carbamazepine?
Tegretol, Tegretol XR , Equetro, Carbatrol, Epitol, Teril
What are the side effects of carbamazepine?
Serious side effects include dangerously low red and white blood cell counts. Severe skin reactions can occur as well as serious liver abnormalities, such as hepatitis, resulting in jaundice. Low sodium levels and thyroid abnormalities have been described. Minor more common side effects include dizziness, unsteadiness, nausea, and vomiting.
Rarely, patients with Asian ancestry may develop severe skin reactions to carbamazepine (Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis). These patients can be identified by genetic testing, and such testing is recommended for all patients who are Asian before starting therapy.
Antiepileptic medications have been associated with an increased risk of suicidal thinking and behavior. Anyone considering the use of antiepileptic drugs must balance this risk of suicide with the clinical need. Patients who are started on therapy should be closely observed for clinical worsening, suicidal thoughts, or unusual changes in behavior.
Quick GuideEpilepsy: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
What is the dosage for carbamazepine?
Carbamazepine may be taken with or without food. Carbamazepine is excreted by the kidney and eliminated by the liver, and dosages may need to be lowered in patients with liver or kidney dysfunction. Blood levels of carbamazepine are used for adjusting dosing. The dose for seizures is 800 to 1600 mg daily in divided doses. Trigeminal neuralgia is treated with 400-1200 mg daily in divided doses. The dose for treating bipolar disorder using Equetro is begun at 200 mg every 12 hours initially, and then increased by 200 mg a day up to a maximum dose of 1600 mg per day.
Which drugs or supplements interact with carbamazepine?
: Carbamazepine interacts with multiple drugs, and caution should be used in combining other medicines with it. Lower levels of carbamazepine are seen when administrated with phenobarbital, phenytoin (Dilantin), or primidone (Mysoline). Warfarin (Coumadin), phenytoin (Dilantin), theophylline, and valproic acid (Depakote, Depakote ER, Depakene, Depacon) are more rapidly eliminated with carbamazepine, while carbamazepine levels are elevated when taken with erythromycin, cimetidine (Tagamet), propoxyphene (Darvon), and calcium channel blockers. Carbamazepine also increases the elimination of the hormones in birth control pills and can reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills. Unexpected pregnancies have occurred in patients taking both carbamazepine and birth control pills.
Is carbamazepine safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
If possible, carbamazepine should not be used in pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
What else should I know about carbamazepine?
What preparations of carbamazepine are available?
Tablets: 200 mg. Chewable tablets; 100 mg. Extended release tablets; 100, 200 and 400 mg. Suspension; 100 mg/5 ml. Equetro is available in 100, 200 and 300 mg extended release tablets
How should I keep carbamazepine stored?
Carbamazepine should be stored in a tight, light resistant container at room temperature.
Carbamazepine (Tegretol, Tegretol XR , Equetro, Carbatrol, Epitol, Teril) is an antiseizure medication prescribed to treat simple and complex seizures and grand mal generalized seizures. Side effects, drug interactions, dosage, storage, and patient safety information should be reviewed prior to taking any medication.
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
Epilepsy: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
Learn about epilepsy stages, symptoms and treatment for this disorder of the brain's electrical system. Epileptic seizures cause...
Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy: Improve Diabetes Nerve Pain
Read about diabetic peripheral neuropathy and exercises to manage nerve pain. Learn how to cope with the symptoms of diabetic...
Epilepsy & Seizures Quiz: What Causes Seizures?
Do you know the difference between seizures and epilepsy? What are the types of seizures? Take the Epilepsy & Seizures Quiz to...
Diabetic Neuropathy Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
Diabetic neuropathy is serious. Take this quiz to get the facts....
Related Disease Conditions
Shingles, or herpes zoster, is a painful rash caused by the varicella zoster virus. Other shingles symptoms include headache,...
Muscle spasms are involuntary muscle contractions that come on suddenly and are usually quite painful. Dehydration, doing...
Restless Leg Syndrome (Symptoms, Causes, Treatment Medications, Home Remedies)
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a common cause for painful legs that typically eases with motion, and becomes worse and more...
Peripheral Neuropathy (Causes, Symptoms, Treatment Medications)
Peripheral neuropathy is a problem with the functioning of the nerves outside of the spinal cord. Symptoms may include numbness,...
Thrombocytopenia (Low Platelet Count)
Thrombocytopenia (low platelet count) refers to a decreased number of platelets in the blood. Symptoms of thrombocytopenia...
Seizures Symptoms and Types
Seizures are divided into two categories: generalized and partial. Generalized seizures are produced by electrical impulses from...
Fabry Disease (Symptoms and Life Expectancy)
Fabry disease (Fabry's disease, alpha-galactosidase-A) is a genetic disorder with symptoms such as burning sensations in...
Pain that originates in the face is referred to as trigeminal neuralgia. This pain may be caused by: an injury, an infection...
Depression is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts and affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one...
Epilepsy is a brain disorder in which the person has seizures. There are two kinds of seizures, focal and generalized. There are...
Bipolar disorder (or manic depression) is a mental illness characterized by depression, mania, and severe mood swings. Treatment...
Compulsive gambling is a disorder that affects millions in the U.S. Symptoms and signs include a preoccupation with gambling,...
Febrile seizures, or convulsions caused by fever, can be frightening in small children or infants. However, in general, febrile...
Cysticercosis (Pork Tapeworm Infection)
Cysticercosis is an infection caused by Taenia solium, the pork tapeworm. Symptoms include seizures, lethargy, nausea and...
Dystonia disorders cause involuntary movements and prolonged muscle contraction, resulting in twisting body motions, tremor, and...
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that causes a person to suffer repeated obsessions and compulsions....
Postpartum depression is a form of depression that occurs within a year after delivery. It is thought that rapid hormone changes...
Bipolar Disorder vs. Schizophrenia
Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are mental illnesses that share some risk factors and treatments. Symptoms of bipolar disorder...
Kleine-Levin syndrome is a rare sleep condition, primarily affecting adolescent males. Symptoms of Kleine-Levin syndrome include...
Compulsive Overeating vs. Binge Eating Disorder
Compulsive overeating is eating more than needed. Binge eating disorder involves recurrent episodes of compulsive eating, even...
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Epilepsy and Seizures FAQs
- Diabetic Neuropathy FAQs
- Grapefruit Juice and Drug Interactions
- Herbs: Toxicities and Drug Interactions
- How To Reduce Your Medication Costs
- Pharmacy Visit, How To Get The Most Out of Your Visit
- Indications for Drugs: Approved vs. Non-approved
- Generic Drugs, Are They as Good as Brand-Names?
- Drugs: Buying Prescription Drugs Online Safely
- Drugs: The Most Common Medication Errors
- Medication Disposal - What to Do with Old or Unusable Medication
- Dangers of Mixing Medications
Medications & Supplements
Prevention & Wellness
- Opioid Painkillers Raise Deadly Heart Risks for Some: Study
- One-a-Day Anti-Seizure Drug Shows Promise for People With Epilepsy
- Marijuana Chemical Shows Promise for Hard-to-Treat Epilepsy in Kids
- Epilepsy Drug Warnings May Slip Through Cracks
- Epilepsy Drugs in Pregnancy Tied to Developmental Delays in Children
- Prescription Meds Can Put on Unwanted Pounds
- New Guidelines Issued for Combining HIV, Seizure Meds
- Seizure Drug May Extend Lives of Brain Cancer Patients
Daily Health News
Brain & Nervous Resources
Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Top carbamazepine Related Articles
Diabetic NeuropathyDiabetic neuropathy is serious. Take this quiz to get the facts.
Exercises for DPNRead about diabetic peripheral neuropathy and exercises to manage nerve pain. Learn how to cope with the symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy through pain management exercises.
Seizures QuizDo you know the difference between seizures and epilepsy? What are the types of seizures? Take the Epilepsy & Seizures Quiz to test your knowledge and learn about this complex disorder of the brain.
Epilepsy SlideshowLearn about epilepsy stages, symptoms and treatment for this disorder of the brain's electrical system. Epileptic seizures cause brief impulses in movement, behavior, sensation or awareness that may cause brain damage.
Epilepsy TreatmentEpileptic seizures mostly controlled through drug therapy, particularly anticonvulsant drugs. Types of treatment prescribed depends on several factors including the frequency and severity of the seizures as well as the person's age, overall health and medical history. Other forms of treatment options also exist including ketogenic diet and electrical stimulation.
Fabry disease (Fabry's disease, alpha-galactosidase-A) is a genetic disorder with symptoms such as
- burning sensations in the hands,
- small-raised reddish-purplish blemishes on the skin,
- decreases sweating, and
- gastrointestinal (GI) difficulties.
Fabry disease patients are at increased risk of heart attack, heart disease, kidney failure, and stroke. Symptoms of Fabry disease can be treated with medication.
Liver Blood TestsAn initial step in detecting liver damage is a simple blood test to determine the presence of certain liver enzymes in the blood. Under normal circumstances, these enzymes reside within the cells of the liver. But when the liver is injured, these enzymes are spilled into the blood stream, and can lead to diseases like fatty liver, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and hepatitis. Several medications also can increase liver enzyme test results.
Muscle SpasmsMuscle spasms are involuntary muscle contractions that come on suddenly and are usually quite painful. Dehydration, doing strenuous exercise in a hot environment, prolonged muscle use, and certain diseases of the nervous system may cause muscle spasms. Symptoms and signs of a muscle spasm include an acute onset of pain and a possible bulge seen or felt beneath the skin where the muscle is located. Gently stretching the muscle usually resolves a muscle spasm.
Peripheral NeuropathyPeripheral neuropathy is a problem with the functioning of the nerves outside of the spinal cord. Symptoms may include numbness, weakness, burning pain (especially at night), and loss of reflexes. Possible causes may include carpel tunnel syndrome, shingles, vitamin or nutritional deficiencies, and illnesses like diabetes, syphilis, AIDS, and kidney failure. Peripheral neuropathy is diagnosed with exams and tests. Treatment for the condition depends on the cause. Usually, the prognosis for peripheral neuropathy is good if the cause can be successfully treated or prevented.
Restless Leg SyndromeRestless leg syndrome (RLS) is a common cause for painful legs that typically eases with motion, and becomes worse and more noticeable at rest. This characteristic nighttime worsening can frequently lead to insomnia. Treatment of the symptoms of restless leg syndrome is generally with medication as well as treating any underlying condition causing restless leg syndrome.
Seizures Symptoms and TypesSeizures are divided into two categories: generalized and partial. Generalized seizures are produced by electrical impulses from throughout the brain, while partial seizures are produced by electrical impulses in a small part of the brain. Seizure symptoms include unconsciousness, convulsions, and muscle rigidity.
Shingles (Herpes Zoster)Shingles, or herpes zoster, is a painful rash caused by the varicella zoster virus. Other shingles symptoms include headache, fever, nausea, and body aches. Treatment focuses on pain management and shortening the duration of the illness with antiviral medications.
Thrombocytopenia (Low Platelet Count)
Thrombocytopenia (low platelet count) refers to a decreased number of platelets in the blood. Symptoms of thrombocytopenia include:
- Increased bruising
- Spontaneous bleeding
- Small, purple spots under the skin called purpura
There are many causes of thrombocytopenia such as decreased platelet production (viral infections for example rubella, mumps, chickenpox, hepatitis C, and HIV); increased platelet destruction or consumption (for example sulfonamide antibiotics, heparin, blood transfusions, and lupus); or increased splenic sequestration (enlarged spleen due to conditions for example liver disease, blood cancers, and more). Treatment of thrombocytopenia depends on the cause.
Trigeminal NeuralgiaPain that originates in the face is referred to as trigeminal neuralgia. This pain may be caused by:
- an injury,
- an infection in the face,
- a nerve disorder, or
- it can occur for no known reason.