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What is topiramate, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Topiramate is an oral drug that is used to prevent the seizures of epilepsy. It is an anti-epileptic or anti-seizure drug. It is used primarily among patients who are not controlled by other anti-epileptic drugs. About 1 in 4 Americans diagnosed with epilepsy has seizures that resist treatment with other anti-epileptic drugs. Topiramate also prevents migraine headaches.
Seizures are due to the abnormal activity ("firing") of nerves in the brain, and the abnormal activity spreads to smaller or larger portions of the brain. Although topiramate's exact mechanism of action is unknown, scientific studies suggest that it may alter neurotransmitters within the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that nerves manufacture and use to communicate with other nearby nerves. By altering the production or action of the neurotransmitters, topiramate may suppress the abnormal activity of the nerves in the brain that cause the seizures or may prevent the abnormal activity from spreading to other nerves. Other studies suggest that topiramate may suppress the nerves directly (i.e., not by altering neurotransmitters) and make them less likely to fire. The FDA approved topiramate as a tablet in 1997. The sprinkle capsules were approved in October 1998.
What brand names are available for topiramate?
Topamax, Qudexy XR, Topamax Sprinkle, Topiragen, Trokendi XR
Is topiramate available as a generic drug?
GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes
Do I need a prescription for topiramate?
What are the side effects of topiramate?
The most common side effects of topiramate are:
- coordination problems,
- weight loss,
- speech problems,
- changes in vision or
- double vision,
- tingling or prickling sensation in hands and feet,
- difficulty with memory, and
- sensory distortion.
Other important side effects include:
What is the dosage for topiramate?
- Most commonly, topiramate immediate release tablets and sprinkles are started in low doses, 25 or 50 mg per day, and then increased slowly by 25 to 50 mg per week until an effective daily dose is reached for treatment of seizures. For children 10 years or older and adults the dose may be increased by 100 mg in week 5 and 6 when topiramate is used alone. This slow approach to treatment reduces side effects. The recommended final adult dose is 200-400 mg administered as two divided doses daily.
- In children, the starting dose is up to 25 mg (1 to 3 mg/kg/day), taken nightly for the first week. The dose is then increased at 1 or 2 week intervals by 1 to 3 mg/kg/day administered in two divided doses. The target dose is 5 to 9 mg/kg per day in two divided doses.
- Migraine is treated 25 mg nightly for the first week then increased by 25 mg weekly up to a maximum dose of 100 mg administered in two divided doses.
- Patients should maintain an adequate fluid intake in order to minimize the risk of kidney stones.
- The recommended dose for extended release capsules is 200-400 mg once daily.
Which drugs or supplements interact with topiramate?
The following medications, when taken with topiramate, increase the risk of kidney stones and metabolic acidosis: acetazolamide (Diamox), dorzolamide (Trusopt), methazolamide (Neptazane), dichlorphenamide (Daranide).
Carbamazepine (Tegretol) and phenytoin (Dilantin) markedly decrease the amount of topiramate in the body by increasing its elimination from the body. As a result, topiramate may lose effectiveness unless doses are increased.
Patients with seizure disorders taking anticonvulsant medications, including topiramate, may develop nerve toxicity from a chemical, 4'-O-methylpyridoxine, found as a contaminant in some ginkgo preparations.
Is topiramate safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
Topiramate is excreted in human milk at levels 10% to 20% the levels in the mother's blood.
What else should I know about topiramate?
What preparations of topiramate are available?
- Tablets: 25, 50, 100, 200 mg
- Sprinkle capsules: 15 and 25 mg
- Capsule (Extended Release): 25, 50, 100, 150, 200 mg
How should I keep topiramate stored?
- Topiramate tablets should be stored at room temperature, 15 C to 30 C (59F to 86 F).
- Sprinkle capsules should be stored at or below 25 C (77 F).
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Topiramate (Topomax, Qudexy XR, Topamax Sprinkle, Topiragen, Trokendi XR) is a drug prescribed for the prevention of the seizures of epilepsy and prevention of migraine headaches. Side effects, drug interactions, pregnancy safety, and warnings and precautions should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
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Headaches can be divided into two categories: primary headaches and secondary headaches. Migraine headaches, tension headaches, and cluster headaches are considered primary headaches. Secondary headaches are caused by disease. Headache symptoms vary with the headache type. Over-the-counter pain relievers provide short-term relief for most headaches.
Migraine headache is a type of headache associated with a sensitivity to light, smells, or sounds, eye pain, severe pounding on one side of the head, and sometimes nausea and vomiting. The exact cause of migraine headaches is not known. Triggers for migraine headaches include certain foods, stress, hormonal changes, strong stimuli (loud noises), and oversleeping. Treatment guidelines for migraines include medicine, pain management, diet changes, avoiding foods that trigger migraines, staying hydrated, getting adequate sleep, and exercising regularly. Prevention of migraine triggers include getting regular exercise, drinking water daily, reducing stress, and avoiding trigger foods.
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Cocaine is an addictive stimulant that is smoked, snorted, and injected. Crack is cocaine that comes in a rock crystal that is heated to form vapors, which are then smoked. Cocaine has various effects on the body, including dilating pupils, constricting blood vessels, increasing body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure.
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Seizures 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.
Epilepsy is a brain disorder in which the person has seizures. There are two kinds of seizures, focal and generalized. There are many causes of epilepsy. Treatment of epilepsy (seizures) depends upon the cause and type of seizures experienced.
Cluster headaches are a type of headache that recurs over a period. Episodes can last one to three times a day during this time, which may last from 2 weeks to 3 months. The three main types of treatments for cluster headaches are, 1) Abortive medications that work to stop the process in the brain that causes migraines and stops the symptoms too. 2) Preventive prescription medications, or 3) surgery which involves blocking the trigeminal nerve.
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