What is Phenytoin?
Phenytoin is an anti convulsant drug, also called an anti epileptic drug. It slows down impulses in the brain that cause seizures. Hence, it is prescribed for controlling seizures. However, it does not treat all types of seizures. Your doctor will decide if it is the right drug for your seizure condition.
Phenytoin is sold under various trade names, some of which are Dilantin and Eptoin (Abott Pharmaceuticals).
Important Information about Phenytoin
Do not take Phenytoin anti convulsant medication (Dilantin, Eptoin) if you also using delavirdine, or if you are allergic to phenytoin, ethotoin, fosphenytoin, or mephenytoin.
Phenytoin usage may lead to suicidal thoughts. This side effect may require you to undergo regular follow up checks by your doctor. You must notify your doctor about any new or deteriorating symptoms like mood or behavior changes, depression, anxiety, suicidal or self hurting thoughts, increased agitation, hostility, restlessness, hyperactivity (mentally or physically). Your family member and caregivers if any must be on alert for these conditions.
Phenytoin is a FDA pregnancy category D drug. This medication has the potential to harm an unborn baby if taken while being pregnant. However, seizure control during pregnancy is very important as a seizure can harm your unborn child greatly. The potential benefits of Phenytoin may warrant the use of this drug in pregnant women in spite of its potential risk. Do not take this medication without the advice of your doctor. Phenytoin can pass into breast milk and harm a nursing baby. Talk to your doctor about this and do not take this medication without proper medical advice if you are nursing a baby.
Before taking Phenytoin
To ensure that Phenytoin anti convulsant medication (Dilantin, Eptoin) is safe for you, notify your doctor in advance before he or she prescribes you this medication about any of your pre-existing conditions like lupus, liver disease, diabetes, deficiency of vitamin D or other factors that cause bone mass loss, porphyria (a genetic enzyme disorder that causes symptoms affecting the skin or nervous system). Also tell your doctor if your intake of alcohol is very high.
People of Asian origin or ancestry may be at a higher risk of developing a rare but serious skin reaction to Phenytoin due to which those patients may be required a blood test before starting Phenytoin course to determine the risk of skin reaction.
How should I take Phenytoin?
Take Phenytoin anti convulsant medication (Dilantin, Eptoin) strictly according to your doctorâ€™s direction or according to the instructions on the medication label. Do not alter the dosage unless your doctor advises you to do so. Also, do not take this medication after the prescribed period is over. All medications come with a patient leaflet. Refer the instructions in them for detailed information on that particular medication.
Avoid crushing, breaking, or chewing a Phenytoin extended release tablet as doing so may lead to too much of the drug to be released in the body at one time. Instead swallow it whole. Do not discontinue the usage of Phenytoin abruptly without doctorâ€™s advice if you no longer have seizures as doing so may worsen your condition with increased seizures. Always store Phenytoin in a cool and dry place.
What if I miss a dose?
If you miss a dose of Phenytoin, take it as soon as you remember. Donâ€™t take the missed dose if the time to take the next dose is almost up. Taking multiple doses near to each other can lead to excess medication in your body which can be harmful.
What if I overdose?
In case of an overdose of Phenytoin, get emergency medical attention or call the Doctor Immediately. Overdose may lead to symptoms like nausea, vomiting, twitching eye movements, slurred speech, loss of balance, tremor, muscle stiffness or weakness, light headedness, fainting, or shortness of breath.
What should I avoid while taking Phenytoin?
Alcohol consumption is not recommended while taking Phenytoin. Also do not take antacids at the same time as you take this medication. Your thinking and reflexes may also be impacted while taking Phenytoin; so be careful while indulging in any activity which requires attention and alertness like driving.
Side Effects of Phenytoin
Some of the common side effects of Phenytoin (Dilantin, Eptoin) are headache, nausea, vomiting, constipation, dizziness, drowsiness, speech troubles, or nervousness. If any of these side effects deteriorate or persist for a long time, you must seek immediate medical attention. Phenytoin may also cause swelling and bleeding of the gum. Massage your gums, brush and floss your teeth properly while taking this medication.
Phenytoin usage may lead to suicidal thoughts. This side effect may require you to undergo regular follow up checks by your doctor. You must notify your doctor about any new or deteriorating symptoms like mood or behavior changes, depression, anxiety, suicidal or self hurting thoughts, increased agitation, hostility, restlessness, hyperactivity (mentally or physically).
The side effects mentioned above are not the only ones that you may experience or witness due to
Phenytoin. If you get any serious side effects due to Phenytoin, contact your doctor right away.
Phenytoin Dosing Information
Phenytoin dosage may depend on a range of factors like age, sex, drug allergies, or seriousness of the condition among several other factors. Your dosage will be fixed by your doctor after examining you properly. Remember to obey your doctor strictly for best results.
Interaction with other drugs
These drugs can interact with Phenytoin: some antibiotics like cycloserine, or doxycycline; sulfa drugs; certain antidepressants; aspirin or other salicylates; birth control pills; blood thinner like warfarin; some sedatives; heart medications; steroids; other seizure medications; stomach acid reducers; or theophylline. These are not all the possible drugs which can interact with Phenytoin. There may be others as well. Your doctor must be informed if you take any of the above mentioned drugs or any other medications. Do not start a new medication without proper medical advice.