Phenytoin is an anti-seizure medication, which is also called anti-epileptic (AEDs) or anti-convulsant. It is prescribed for people who have epilepsy. Phenytoin is one of the oldest anticonvulsant drugs that is primarily used for:
- The prevention and management of generalized and partial seizures for children and adults.
- Treatment and prevention of seizure associated with head injury or brain surgery.
- It is also used for the treatment of a certain type of seizure that requires treatment with AED’s known as epilepticus.
- Treatment of severe pain in the lips, cheeks, gums, or eye due to the disorder of the nerves in the face. However, patients with this type of disorder can take this medicine only if other medications like carbamazepine is ineffective.
Epilepsy is a condition characterized by a predisposition to recurrent seizures. People with epilepsy or seizure disorder might need to take AEDs on regular basis to reduce the chances of having a seizure.
Phenytoin works by stabilizing the electrical activity in the brain. The brain and nerves are comprised of many nerve cells that communicate with each other through electrical signals. These messages must be accurately regulated for the brain and nerves to function normally..
When rapid and repeated bursts of electric current pass through the brain, the brain becomes overstimulated. As a result, proper function is disrupted which can result in fits or seizures.
Phenytoin prevents seizures by blocking sodium from entering a neuron when the neuron begins to fire rapid and repetitive electrical signals. This is believed to prevent excessive electrical activity in the brain. Phenytoin prevents the build-up of sodium in the nerve cells, helping to stabilize the electrical activity in the brain.
When and How to Use Phenytoin Sodium
The dose of Phenytoin and the duration of treatment depends on the condition being treated and how well you tolerate the drug. The dose also varies from person to person.
For the treatment of seizure (Tablet):
- Adult: Take 100 mg three times a day. You may also take 300 mg once a day. Your doctor will likely increase your dose as needed. Patients in the hospital should be given 1000 mg into three divided doses given every two hours.
- Children: The dose for children is 300 mg a day in 2 or 3 divided doses. The doctor may adjust the dose as needed.
- Children 6 years of age and younger: The dose for children 6 years old and younger is 5 mg per body kg in 2 or 3 divided doses per day.
Take this medicine with or without and at the same time each day. Swallow the tablet whole with a glass of water. If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember.
Possible Side Effects of Phenytoin
Common side effects of this medicine include:
- Skin rash
- Slurred speech
- Trouble sleeping
- Skin rash
Serious side effects include:
- Serious skin rashes with symptoms like skin redness, itchiness, hives, and blistering or peeling of the skin.
- Suicidal thoughts or behavior with signs like:
- Panic attack
- Attempt to commit suicide
- Feeling restless
- Extreme increase in activity and talking
- Worsen irritability
What To know before taking Phenytoin?
Use this medicine with care among people with:
- Decreased liver functions
- High levels of urea in the blood
- Hereditary disorders called porphyria’s
- Who do not consume much calcium in the diet
- Who do not get enough vitamin D
- Who are immobilized for a long period like those who are confined to a bed or with a plaster cast in the leg
Do not use this if you are allergic to any of its ingredients. Patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding must consult first with their doctor before taking this medicine. Pregnant who are taking this medicine has higher chances of carrying a baby with developmental problems and malformations.
Getting the Best Result from Phenytoin
- People with epilepsy need to take their medication as their doctor directs. Missing doses can increase the risk of having seizures. If you have trouble remembering to take your medication, ask your pharmacist for advice. A pill reminder box may be helpful.
- You should only stop taking this medicine if your doctor tells you otherwise. Stopping treatment all of a sudden is likely to make your condition worse. Stopping treatment normally happens gradually, under the supervision of your doctor.
- Alcoholic beverages can affect the level of this drug in your blood. Ask your doctor if it’s fine for you to drink alcoholic beverages while you are taking this medicine.