Unregulated electrical pulses at the neuron-level can cause convulsions or fits. Drugs prescribed for treating such conditions are known as anticonvulsant drugs or antiepileptic medications. These are made with specific therapeutic properties; they also tend to trigger a few adverse drug interactions. There are different types of such antiepileptic meds, and the most popular among them are gabapentin, pregabalin, carbamazepine, valproate, oxcarbazepine, etc. Of these, gabapentin and valproates help block sodium channels. On the other hand, oxcarbazepine as well as carbamazepine block calcium channels. In particular, what are the precautions needed while you are taking oxcarbazepine? It is an important thing to know more details on this front.

Anticonvulsant meds are essentially pain relieving meds; they work by blocking a few electrolytes such as calcium, sodium, etc. Among these meds, oxcarbazepine is widely used – either as a combinatorial treatment or as a standalone dose – for treating epileptic seizures as well as fits. It is used both among children as well as adults. However, use of these drugs on children younger than 6 years is considered harmful; it is a wise thing to talk to your child’s doctor about the risks and of safer alternatives. Oxcarbazepine belongs to a class to meds known as anticonvulsants; administration of this drug minimizes the excessive firing of neurons of your central nervous system (CNS).

Precautions needed while you are using oxcarbazepine

Users need to know that this drug may alter the functioning of your liver as well as renal system. Hence, those with hepatic dysfunction – owing to ailments such as hepatitis or cirrhosis of liver – must keep their caregiving team aware of such problems. Intake of alcohol may aggravate liver conditions; hence, you are advised to discontinue drinking. If your lifestyle habits include drinking on a daily basis, you are advised to minimise the quantum of intake after consulting with your physician.

On the same vein, if you are living with kidney related problems, your prescribing doctor needs to know of the status of your renal wellbeing. Those who are experiencing an altered output / discharge of urine, witnessing pains while beginning to urinate, living with conditions such as continence, etc. must tell both their pharmacist and doctor of such symptoms. Prior to starting your dosage plan, it is essential to assess your renal condition. Your doctor may prescribe a few diagnostic tests such as complete blood count, urine sample test as well as kidney function test.

Likely skin problems and needful precautions

Oxcarbazepine is linked to the incidence of Stevens Johnson syndrome. This shows up as a skin problem and its typical signs include peeling of skin, blistering, drying of skin, etc. In some cases, it has led to respiratory conditions such as pneumonia. You are advised to talk to your doctor of this syndrome. Those who have this ailment as part of their family’s medical history or have had prior episodes of sepsis and breathing problems must inform their caregiver of such pre-existing illnesses.

Use of oxcarbazepine among people who are sexually active

If you are sexually active, you are advised to use birth control measures or contraceptives such as vaginal rings, skin patches or other non-hormonal control methods. You are advised to talk to a birth control specialist prior to using a birth control technique. Careful selection of a birth control measure is needed as an effective approach can help prevent unplanned child birth or pregnancies. However, once you have discontinued the dosage plan of oxcarbazepine, you may stop using contraceptives and get ready to become pregnant.

Intake of oxcarbazepine by pregnant women – Precautions needed

Women who are living with epilepsy and are currently pregnant must take needful precautions while taking this drug. Key chemicals of oxcarbazepine may trigger a few side effects and these may harm your fetus. Also, medical research remains largely inconclusive on how safe this drug is onto women who are already pregnant. Owing to the latent risks involved, doctors do not prescribe this anticonvulsant drug during pregnancy. However – in some one-off cases, oxcarbazepine has been administered to pregnant women; in all such cases, the benefits this drug offers have far exceeded risks of likely side effects. In this light, use of anticonvulsant drugs of the earlier generation is more likely to cause risks to fetus.

So, how to use oxcarbazepine?

The risks of malformation of fetus tend to get higher with the use of drugs such as carbamazepine as well as phenobarbital; these risks may loom high among drugs such as valproate, lamotrigine, phenytoin, topiramate or levetiracetam. Use of valproic acid can result in cleft lip formation and an overall delay in development of babies. In some instances, infants may develop a few endocrinal and cardiovascular problems. In general, clinical management of epilepsy, fits or seizures among pregnant women needs careful monitoring. Drugs such as oxcarbazepine need to be taken under the supervision of a qualified medical practitioner.

Limitations of oxcarbazepine

You need to know that oxcarbazepine may only treat the signs of epilepsy by controlling them, and is not a permanent cure to such a condition. Stopping to take this drug may cause a likely relapse of fits and seizures; in most cases, an abrupt end of the dosage plan has only worsened the spells of fits and convulsions. It is hence strongly recommended to keep taking this drug in spite of seeing an overall improvement in your health condition.

Intake of anticonvulsant meds such as oxcarbazepine (including muscle relaxants and other antiepileptic drugs) may trigger a few mental problems. Consult with your treating physician if you are having thoughts about committing suicide or about harming your own self. Also, if your family history or clinical track record has mental conditions like mood shifts including depression, bipolar mental disorders, staying gloomy, living with phobias or anxieties, hallucinations or weird thoughts, etc., your caregiving team needs to know more details of such conditions. Upon experiencing aggressive behavior or other self-harming thoughts, visit a local hospital or a clinic on an urgent basis.

Side effects of oxcarbazepine you need to be wary of

Oxcarbazepine can cause a few undesired adverse reactions and side effects. The most common discomforts this anticonvulsant med may cause are constipation (difficulties experienced while passing stools), irregular movement of bowels, sleep related disorders such as insomnia, abdominal conditions such as nausea, vomiting and indigestion. Those who experience hardening of stools or frequent spells of constipation may be prescribed with laxative drugs or stool loosening agents. These drugs may need to be taken under the medical supervision of a qualified doctor. Also, laxatives are not over the counter meds. Those who took laxatives and stool loosening drugs on their own run the risk of becoming addicted to such meds.

If you are epileptic or are witnessing frequent episodes of muscular weakness and / or spasms, your physician is likely to prescribe drugs such as phenobarbital or phenytoin. Your physician must be kept abreast of all such meds. Intake of oxcarbazepine along with such drugs may lead to an overdosed condition. How to know if you have taken an overdose of such drugs? You are likely to experience dizziness, acute levels of drowsiness, inflammation of lips or tongue, itchiness and other skin conditions such as peeling or blistering of skin. As a safety measure, never perform work with heavy machinery or engage in sporting actions like driving, cycling or swimming.

As an overarching precaution, users of anticonvulsants such as oxcarbazepine must know that consumption of various antiepileptic meds – at the same time – may cause severe side effects. If you are experiencing excessive levels of tiredness, breathing problems such as wheezing or gasping for breath, weakness, etc., rush to a local medical unit without much delay. Those who are residents of US are highly recommended to seek medical support by dialling 911 on an emergency basis. You can also reach out to the helpline run by the US-based federal drug clearing body – the food and drug administration (FDA). This nodal agency runs helplines to help manage side effects or adverse reactions users face while using drugs cleared by it. On the other hand, people living in Canada are advised to rush to a local poison control unit that manages food / drug poisoning. People living in any Canadian province can also dial Health Canada for needful clinical support and care.

In sum, a few precautions may need to be observed prior to taking oxcarbazepine. As the key substances used in this anticonvulsant may harm the fetus, it is not safe for pregnant women. Also, anticonvulsant drugs belonging to yester-generations are likely to trigger more risks to your fetal wellbeing than recent generations of such drugs. Those who are taking muscle relaxing meds like phenytoin, phenobarbital, primidone, etc. must tell their doctor of their current dosage plan. Upon observing side effects such as drowsiness, swelling of tongue or other oral parts, skin conditions like formation of blisters, your doctor must be made aware of all such adverse effects. Last but not least, never drive or handle heavy machines soon after taking this antiepileptic medication. For more details about all other precautions, talk to your treating doctor and / or pharmacist prior to starting your medication plan.

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