Seizures are neurological conditions are believed to be caused by anomalous electrical signals in your brain. The actual causes for fits and seizures largely remain elusive to medical sciences. However, among younger adults, epilepsy is linked to genetic causes. In aged people, epilepsy may occur due to damage of brain cells, cancers in the brain and to those with a prior history of strokes. Drugs such as topiramate are commonly used for treating epilepsy among all ages – i.e., adults as well as children. Apart from treating fits or convulsions, the drug has a few other uses. These uses include treatment of bipolar conditions, personality-based disorders, withdrawal of alcohol, etc. Topiramate is likely to cause a few side effects. Talk to your treating doctor and pharmacist about its likely side effects and how to manage such outcomes.

Epileptic fits occur when your brain cells experience an abrupt increase in electrical pulses. It is a chronic condition characterised by repeated episodes of fits or convulsions. Fits can be either partial or general; a partial condition affects only one segment of your brain. On the other hand, a generalized spell of epileptic fits can affect your entire brain function. The causes underlying this condition remain largely unknown in most of the cases. However, a few likely causes include injuries sustained in the brain, incidence of strokes – especially among adults, congenial disorders and a few genetic ailments. In some cases, conditions like dementia, meningitis, substance abuse during pregnancy and infectious conditions like HIV AIDS are also identified as other possible triggers.

There is no known cure for seizures. Your treating physician may prescribe medications for the case management of convulsions. Topiramate belongs to a class of drugs known as anticonvulsants. The key function of this drug is to reduce abnormal firing of your brain’s electrical system.

Side effects of topiramate

This drug is likely to trigger a few adverse side effects. You however need to remember that your doctor has prescribed topiramate because its benefits clearly outweigh the risks or adverse side effects. Most common side effects of this drug include – being in a confused state of mind, involuntary movement of eyeballs, drowsiness, slurring of speech, etc. A few users have reported adverse effects such as weariness, memory lapses and discoloration of eyes as well as blurring of eyesight. You are advised to talk to your treating physician upon observing any of these undesired outcomes.

Rare and serious side effects

In relatively uncommon instances, users of topiramate have experienced pain in chest, mood swings including depression, drop in appetite level, soreness of throat, loss of body weight and insomnia or other sleep related disorders. As extremely remote occurrences, a few very serious side effects like inability to control bladder, inflammation, traces of blood in urine (this can be due to formation of stones in kidney) and respiratory problems like wheezing or shortness of breath have also been noticed.

Allergies triggered by topiramate

This anticonvulsant rarely triggers allergic reactions. It is however essential to share details about known allergies or hypersensitivity with your doctor. Ensure to share this information before starting the medication plan. In remote cases, the drug can cause some allergies; these include itchiness, hives on skin, inflammation of body parts, breathing difficulties as well as an excessive spell of dizziness.

If you notice any of these adverse side effects or allergies, it is highly recommended to take needful medical attention on an emergency basis. Those living in the US can call 911 or get in touch with a poison control center as quickly as possible. If you are a resident of Canada, you may either reach out to Health Canada or a local poison control unit immediately. It is important to know that the aforesaid reactions and side effects do not represent a complete list of possible discomforts. Hence, it is possible that you may experience new or unlisted side effects. In all such conditions, you are advised to seek medical help on an emergency mode.

Adverse side effects triggered by interactions with co-administered drugs

Drug-level interactions are common among co-administered medications. It is a safe practice to tell your doctor about all the drugs you are presently taking. Your doctor may require a list of your current medication and treatment plans. While compiling this list, always include all forms of meds presently taken – such as, prescription drugs, over the counter meds, dietary supplements, herbal medicines, vitamins, etc.

Topiramate is more likely to interact with anti-obesity drugs. So, if you taking meds like orlistat, your medical team needs to be aware of it. Also, topiramate can reduce the efficacy of birth control measures such as birth control pills, vaginal ring or patches. It is highly recommended to seek a more trustworthy form of birth control while you are taking this medicine. As dizziness is a common side effect of topiramate, take added caution while taking anxiety-reducing or sleep inducing medicines such as zolpidem, diazepam or alprazolam. Some of the medicines taken to treat chronic pain may contain opioids in them; intake of such drugs can worsen your dizziness levels. Risks of falling or passing out are high when you take these pain killers along with topiramate. Last but not least, stay cautious while using muscle relaxing drugs or muscle relaxers along with this drug; combination of these drugs can lead to excessive dizziness, loss of consciousness as well as fainting.

Risks associated with a likely overdose of topiramate

Overdosing can occur when you have forgotten to take a dose. In such instances, in order to make up for the missed dose, some people may take a double dose. Such practices can often lead to an overdosed condition. An overdose of topiramate can trigger serious side effects such as a severe spell of dizziness, extreme episodes of drowsiness, respiratory problems such as gasping, wheezing, etc. and fainting or passing out. If you notice any of these signs, reach out to 911 immediately. Those in the US or Canada need to call a poison control center located in their province.

Safety measures for minimising or avoiding likely side effects of topiramate

As a foremost measure, you are advised to read the drug information booklet / leaflet to know more about topiramate. It is a safe practice to read this booklet every time you opt for a refill. Your dosage may depend on a lot of factors; important variables that determine dosage levels include your age, gender, clinical condition and your body’s response to the initial dosage of topiramate. In case of younger adults as well as children, the optimal dosage value is determined by body weight.

The initial doses of topiramate are usually kept at a minimal level. The first doses are always once per day – preferably, at the night. As your body gets used to the drug and its active ingredients, the doses are gradually increased. Intake is often increased to twice per day. It is a good practice to take this drug at the same time each day to maximise the results.

Clinical history

It is essential to make your doctor know about your clinical history as well as your family’s medical history. If you are living with hepatic conditions such as cirrhosis, respiratory problems like wheezing, bone disorders, ocular problems like glaucoma, etc., your doctor must know about them. This drug can cause drowsiness as well as dizziness; so, those who have a history of substance abuse or currently addicted to intoxicants like alcohol must take needful precautions. In general, it is not a safe practice to perform activities needing high level of mental alertness such as driving or using heavy machinery. Your physician may advise minimizing or avoiding the use of alcohol.

Those with renal dysfunction or chronic kidney diseases must take a few added precautions; as the likelihood of stone formation in kidneys is high, it is important to drink a lot of fluids such as water. Also, use of topiramate may lead to lesser sweating. This can in turn lead to risks of heat strokes; hence, it is not safe to take hot baths or work directly under the sun. Upon having a headache or an increase in body temperature, you are advised to consult your doctor as quickly as possible.

Administration of topiramate to aged people, children, pregnant or breastfeeding women

Aged people or elders are more vulnerable to the side effects of topiramate. They may experience acute spells of drowsiness or dizziness. The odds of falling are high among the elderly. Hence, needful awareness of such risks can help avoid near-fatal falls or fractures.

Similar to the aged, younger adults and children can also turn more sensitive to this drug. Younger users may develop side effects like slowing down of natural growth rate, reduced levels of sweating and poor development of bones. Such children may have problems with height as well as body weight. Some of them may not reach the average height, as they become an adult. So, prior to starting the treatment plan, it is necessary to consult your children’s doctor (i.e. a pediatrician).

This drug may harm the fetus; so, it is taken only if it is absolutely essential. It is a good practice not to become pregnant while using topiramate. Your doctor can recommend proper birth control measures to avoid pregnancies. On the other hand, women who experience frequent spells of epileptic fits or convulsions must not stop taking this anticonvulsant med. So, it is a safe practice to consult your physician if you are planning to become pregnant or if you are already pregnant.

Breastfeeding mothers must know that the active ingredients of topiramate can enter into mother’s milk. The side effects such milk can trigger in the feeding infants may include persisting crying or sleep related problems. Your doctor needs to be consulted about safer substitutes or for a possible reduction of dosage levels if you are currently nursing a baby.

In sum, topiramate belongs to a class of meds known as anticonvulsants. Its main function is to decrease the abnormal firing of your brain’s electrical networks. The most common side effects of this drug are drowsiness, difficulties experienced while speaking, confusion, tiredness, discoloration of eyes, blurring, etc. You need to consult your doctor quickly if these side effects persist.

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