Topiramate, sold under the brand name Topamax among others, is a medication used to treat epilepsy and prevent migraines. It has also been used in alcohol dependence. For epilepsy, this includes treatment for generalized or focal seizures. ALSO SEE: Uses of Rivotril Pill
How to use Topamax
Read the Medication Guide and, if available, the Patient Information Leaflet provided by your pharmacist before you start taking topiramate and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist. Take this medication by mouth with or without food as directed by your doctor, usually twice daily. Swallow the tablets whole since breaking them may leave a bitter taste. To prevent kidney stones from forming, drink plenty of liquids while taking this medication unless your doctor instructs you otherwise.
Dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment. For children, the dosage is also based on weight. Your doctor will gradually increase your dose to reduce your risk of side effects. For some conditions, you may start treatment with topiramate once daily at bedtime and slowly increase your dose to twice a day. It may take several weeks or months to reach the best dose for you and to get the full benefit from this medication.
Take this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, take it at the same time each day. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor. Some conditions may become worse when this drug is suddenly stopped. Your dose may need to be gradually decreased. Tell your doctor if your condition persists or if it worsens.
What Are the Long-Term Side Effects Of Topamax?
According to available studies, there are no known problems associated with long-term use of Topamax ( topiramate) when used as directed. The possible side effects of Topamax are listed below;
Common side effects
- Thinking problems: slow thoughts, trouble finding the right word, confusion, trouble concentrating
- Feel clumsy, unsteady, dizzy, tired, weak, or nervous
- Loss of appetite, change in the way food tastes, weight loss, stomach pain
- Numbness or tingling sensation in limbs and extremities
- Rare/serious side effects
- Mood or behavior changes, such as aggression, agitation, apathy, irritability, and depression
- Hearing problems (ringing, buzzing, and decreased hearing)
- Fever, sore throat, upper respiratory infection
- Itching, nosebleeds, pale skin, blisters, allergy (skin rash, swelling, troubled breathing), yellow eyes or skin, easy bruising, and bleeding
Topamax may cause eye problems. Serious eye problems include a sudden decrease in vision with or without pain/redness and increased pressure in the eye. These eye problems can lead to permanent vision loss if not treated.
Topamax may cause decreased sweating and increased body temperature. People, especially children, should be watched for signs of this — especially in hot climates. Some people may need to be hospitalized for this condition.
Topamax can increase the level of acid in your blood (metabolic acidosis). If left untreated, metabolic acidosis can cause brittle or soft bones, kidney stones, can slow the rate of growth in children, and may possibly harm your baby if you are pregnant. Metabolic acidosis can happen with or without symptoms. Sometimes people with metabolic acidosis will feel tired, not feel hungry, feel changes in heartbeat, or have trouble thinking clearly.
Studies have found that individuals who take antiepileptic medications, including topiramate, have suicidal thoughts or behaviors up to twice as often as individuals who take a placebo (inactive medication). These thoughts or behaviors occurred in approximately 1 in 500 patients taking the antiepileptic class of medications.
Are There Any Risks For Taking Topamax For Long Periods Of Time?
To date, there are no known problems associated with the long-term use of topiramate. It is a safe and effective medication when used as directed.
What Other Medications May Interact With Topamax?
Topiramate may decrease the levels and effects of oral contraceptives (birth control pills). The following medications may decrease levels and effects of topiramate: carbamazepine (Tegretol®), phenytoin (Dilantin®), valproate (Depakote®), and phenobarbital
Combining valproate (Depakote®) with topiramate may increase ammonia levels in your blood. If this happens, you may get confused, disoriented, or have difficulty thinking.
Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors, including acetazolamide, dichlorphenamide, methazolamide, and dorzolamide, increase the risk of kidney stones when taken with topiramate.
How Long Does It Take For Topamax To Work?
It is very important to tell your doctor how you feel things are going during the first few weeks after you start taking topiramate. It will probably take several weeks to see big enough changes in your symptoms to decide if topiramate is the right medication for you.
Mood stabilizer treatment is generally needed lifelong for persons with bipolar disorder. Your doctor can best discuss the duration of treatment you need based on your symptoms and course of illness.