Frequently asked questions for Carbamazepine
Q. Is Carbamazepine an analgesic? What is it used for?No, Carbamazepine is not an analgesic and should not be used for regular aches or pains. It is an anti-epileptic medicine which is used to treat fits (seizures). It is also used in the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia (intense facial nerve pain). In addition to that, Carbamazepine is used to control mood disorders when other medicines fail to work.
Q. What are the long-term effects of Carbamazepine?The long-term side effects of Carbamazepine vary from person to person. While some people can take Carbamazepine safely for several years, some may develop side effects on using it for long term. These side effects include osteoporosis and osteopenia in which the bones become weak and can get easily fractured. Therefore, if you have been prescribed Carbamazepine for a long term, get your bone density checked at regular intervals, maintain a healthy diet and exercise daily.
Q. How do I stop taking Carbamazepine?You should stop Carbamazepine only after consulting your doctor. It is advised to gradually decrease the dose of Carbamazepine so that the condition for which you are taking it does not recur.
Q. How quickly does Carbamazepine start working?Your symptoms may take 1-2 weeks to improve. However, in some cases, it may take even longer. Consult your doctor if your condition doesn't improve or if you have any doubts regarding your condition.
Q. What should I tell my doctor before taking Carbamazepine?Inform your doctor if you are taking any other medicines including medicines for epilepsy or seizures, medicines used to thin your blood (e.g., warfarin), medicines to control bacterial infection (e.g., chloramphenicol, metronidazole and doxycycline) and medicines to control viral infection (e.g., nelfinavir). Also, let your doctor know if you take asthma medicines (e.g., theophylline and montelukast), birth control pills, etc. It is important to tell your doctor if you are planning to become pregnant or are breastfeeding. Further, you should tell the doctor if you have ever had liver problems, kidney problems, lung problems or porphyria (a rare blood pigment disorder).
Q. What should I avoid while taking Carbamazepine?Carbamazepine may make you sleepy or you may feel dizzy. Therefore, avoid driving or operating heavy machinery. Alcohol consumption should be avoided since taking both together may cause excessive sleepiness.
Q. How can I look for early symptoms of suicidal thoughts and actions?Pay attention to any changes, especially sudden changes in mood, behavior, thoughts or feelings. Keep all follow-up visits with your doctor as scheduled. Call your doctor as needed, especially if you are worried about any symptoms.
Q. Can the use of Carbamazepine lead to weight gain? If yes, how can it be managed?Yes, Carbamazepine causes weight gain as a common side effect. This could be due to an increase in appetite. You can manage your weight by eating a healthy diet, consuming low calorie food and including more vegetables and fruits in your diet. Also, regular physical exercise will be very helpful.
Q. Can the use of Carbamazepine affect my sex life?Though rare but Carbamazepine may cause decreased sexual desire. It may also impair male fertility as it may reduce sperm count and/or motility. Consult your doctor if you develop these symptoms.
Q. I am taking Carbamazepine for trigeminal neuralgia. For how long do I need to take it?Once the medicine relieves your pain, talk to your doctor who will gradually reduce your dose. Carbamazepine can be possibly stopped if there is no recurrence of pain after taking the reduced dose for several weeks.
Q. How can I reduce the side effects of Carbamazepine?Side effects of Carbamazepine can be reduced by starting it at a low dose. The doctor may gradually increase the dose, until an effective dose is reached.
Q. When should I go for a laboratory test when taking this medicine?Before starting treatment with Carbamazepine, your doctor may ask you to get regular blood tests, liver function test, and in some cases, even a urine test. You may need to take these tests from time to time during your treatment. This is quite usual and nothing to worry about.