Generic Name: Phenobarbital
Used to Treat: epilepsy
Seizure Type: All seizure types
Forms of the medicine:
What is Phenobarbital?
Phenobarbital (fee-no-BAR-bih-tal) is a commonly used antiepileptic drug with long history. Phenobarbital was first used as an antiepileptic drug in 1912. It is used for generalized tonic-clonic and complex or simple partial seizures in adults and children. It may also be used for myclonic seizures. Once considered to be a first line drug, it is now generally thought to be a second-line therapy because of its side effects, which include sedation, depression and agitation. Phenobarbital is prescribed as capsules, tablets, and in syrup.
How do I take Phenobarbital?
Take this medication exactly as it is prescribed for you. Do not take the medication in larger amounts or longer than recommended by your doctor. Do not change your dosage without your doctor's advice. Tell your doctor if the medication does not seem to work in treating your condition. When used for long periods of time or at high doses, Phenobarbital may not work as well and may require higher doses to obtain the same effect as when originally taken. Talk with your doctor if Phenobarbital stops working well. Do not take more than prescribed.
Phenobarbital may be taken with food or without food. However, try to take it the same way each day as food may change the time it takes to be absorbed. Drowsiness is the most common side effects; many people take phenobarbital 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime.
Tablets may be crushed and put in foods for children. The liquid form can be given with water, milk, or juice. Shake the liquid well just before measuring a dose. To be sure you ingest the correct dose, measure the liquid with a marked measuring spoon or medicine cup. Do not use a regular table spoon. Ask your pharmacist to provide you with one if you do not have a dose-measuring device.
What if I miss a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take an extra dose, unless prescribed by your doctor.
What if I experience side effects?
Various side effects may occur in taking this medicine. Most side effects are not serious and may disappear naturally. Call your doctor if you have any questions concerning your possible side effects. However, do not stop taking your medication without advice from your doctor. They will discuss and recommend possible options. At times it is necessary to continue taking your medication despite these side effects.
There are other side effects that may be serious and indicate that your body is not tolerating the drug properly. Call a doctor right away if these side effects become severe or cause considerable problems in your daily functions. If you experience a change in seizures, severe rash, or allergic reaction contact your doctor immediately as these may indicate potentially life threatening problems.
Contact your physician immediately if you experience any of the following side effects:
Keep this medication in its original container, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store your prescription at room temperature, away from excess heat and moisture (i.e. not the bathroom). Do not freeze the liquid. Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.
Recommendation for women
Phenobarbital has been shown to cause harm to the fetus. If you think you may be pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using Phenobarbital while you are pregnant. Phenobarbital is found in breast milk. If you are or will be breast-feeding while you use Phenobarbital, check with your doctor.
Other helpful information
Use Phenobarbital with caution in the elderly as they may be more sensitive to its effects. Phenobarbital should not be used in children younger than 12 years old. Hormonal birth controls may not work as well while you are using Phenobarbital. An extra amount of birth control may be needed if you are using birth control pills. Discuss with your doctor if you are taking birth control pills. Because Phenobarbital has the potential to interact with many other commonly prescribed medications, it is important to let your doctor know if a new drug has been recently prescribed to you to make certain to correct for any potential drug interactions.
Headaches, Depression, Dizziness, Upset stomach, Drowsiness, Hyperactivity (children)