A neurologist has just prescribed the patient, Tom, the anticonvulsant Lamotrigine. Tom worries about the drug’s potential side effects and expresses his concerns to his doctor. The neurologist names some Lamotrigine side effects, but reassures him that the risks are low and that he will benefit immensely from this medication. Although Tom is still nervous, he thanks his doctor and leaves the appointment. When Tom gets home, he goes to sideeffectanswers.com to read all the information he can find about Lamotrigine.
Just as Tom has sought answers for Lamotrigine via our website, you can too. Lamotrigine is a medication used to treat seizures. It is prescribed as either solid tablets, orally dissolvable tablets, or chewable tablets. Lamotrigine also comes in extended-release and non-extended-release forms.
What Is Lamotrigine?
Lamotrigine, the generic version of the name brand Lamictal, is a common seizure medication. Its chemical composition works to decrease a person’s abnormal electrical brain activity.
Lamotrigine vs. Lamictal: Which Is Better?
Lamotrigine is generally effective in the treatment of seizures except when it is manufactured by a company called TEVA. Because of this, some doctors prescribe Lamtical instead of Lamotrigine. With that said, both are effective forms of treatment.
Lamotrigine Extended-Release and Non-Extended-Release Tablets
Lamotrigine tablets are used with or without other medications to treat seizures in epileptic patients and those with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome—a disorder that causes seizures and developmental delays. These tablets are also used to treat various psychiatric conditions such as acute Unipolar Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depersonalization Disorder, and Schizoaffective Disorder.
No evidence has proven that Lamotrigine is effective during actual episodes of depression or mania, which are results of some of these disorders. Instead, it is shown that it increases the time between these episodes. For this reason, other medications are used with Lamotrigine to help people recover from these episodic events.
There are a few things to consider before one takes Lamotrigine, i.e., medical conditions, medication allergies, and any prescription drugs, vitamins, nutritional supplements or herbal products that are currently being taken by the patient.
It is necessary to tell the prescribing doctor or pharmacist about a potential or definite allergic reaction to Lamotrigine or any other medications. If there are any Lamotrigine ingredients that are risks, please advise your doctor or pharmacist. Also, it is essential that the patient reviews the manufacturer’s patient information sheet for a list of the medication’s ingredients.
Additionally, if there are any changes to current medications while on Lamotrigine, the prescribing doctor needs to know this information.
If there is also a pregnancy, a plan to become pregnant, or a chance of pregnancy while on Lamotrigine, the prescribing physician must be told this too.
This same warning applies to surgery of any kind. Not only should your doctor be notified of a scheduled surgery, but the surgeon or dentist should be informed of current your Lamotrigine dosage and frequency.
How to Take Lamotrigine
Whether the Lamotrigine is an extended-release tablet or an orally disintegrating tablet (dissolves in the mouth), it can be taken with water and with or without food. A chewable, dispersible tablet is to be chewed or dissolved in liquid. It is also taken orally and may be taken with or without food as well.
Extended-release tablets are taken once a day while all other forms are taken once or twice daily. Both solid tablets and extended-release tablets are to be swallowed whole. They are not to be split, chewed, or crushed.
Chewable, dispersible tablets may be swallowed whole, chewed, or dissolved in liquid. If chewed, be sure to drink a little water afterward to wash down the particles that remain in your mouth. To dissolve these tablets, fill a drinking glass with one teaspoon (five milliliters) of water. Then, place a single tablet in the liquid and allow one minute for it to dissolve. Finally, swirl the water and immediately drink all the liquid.
An orally disintegrating tablet can be placed on the tongue and moved around the mouth. Once the tablet dissolves, swallow it with or without water.
If the Lamotrigine is in a blister pack, check the pack for any damage. If there is in fact damage, do not take the medication.
A doctor always includes the administration directions on the prescription which are subsequently printed on the prescription label. Always look at the label to confirm that you have been given the correct medication. Remember that if you have any questions or concerns about your prescription or there is a change in medication and/or dosage, always ask the pharmacist or contact your doctor for clarification.
All forms of Lamotrigine are prescribed by a doctor only if the benefits outweigh the risks. Nevertheless, Lamotrigine side effects do exist and range from mild to severe. They can happen at any time during treatment. A patient should always be aware of how he or she feels and report any noticeable physical, emotional or mental changes that occur while on this prescription medication.
Lamotrigine side effects are relatively harmless when compared to other prescription drug options. Some occur in the initial few days of treatment, but most typically develop within the first two to eight weeks. No sexual side effects have been associated with Lamotrigine, and only a few interactions with other prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications have been reported.
Common Lamotrigine Side Effects
Although there are quite a few side effects, most of them are common and not severe. Examples include dizziness, shaking (tremors), sleepiness, tired feeling, drowsiness or loss of coordination, double vision or blurred vision.
Other common Lamotrigine side effects are nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, abdominal pain, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, dry mouth, changes in menstrual periods, vaginal swelling, itching or irritation.
Some additional commonly reported side effects might be uncontrollable eye movements, difficulty thinking or concentrating, difficulty speaking, back or joint pain, sore throat, runny nose or sleep problems (insomnia).
Serious Lamotrigine side effects are rare but possible. They should never be taken lightly. If they do develop, it is vital that they are reported immediately to the healthcare professional who is treating the patient.
Serious Side Effects of Lamotrigine
The following are serious side effects that have been reported in people who are taking Lamotrigine. They include an increase in seizure frequency, persistent seizures, or seizures that are different from a person’s past seizures.
Others severe Lamotrigine side effects are chest pain, swelling of the hands, feet, ankles or lower legs, headaches, stiff neck, sensitivity to light and loss of consciousness, rash (mild, moderate or severe) on any part of the body, depression or suicidal thoughts that are new or have become worse , and flu-like symptoms such as swollen glands or body aches.
Thus far, there are no reports on interactions between Lamotrigine and Lithium.
Enzymes that facilitate Lamotrigine metabolism are induced with Tegretol (Carbamazepine) which is why patients who take Tegretol have lower levels of Lamotrigine in their blood as compared to those who don’t take Carbamazepine.
Patients’ Lamotrigine plasma levels are doubled with Depakote (Valproate). When Carbamazepine is in the blood, it lowers the Lamotrigine concentration. In addition, Lamotrigine can increase the Carbamazepine plasma level. It has been shown that Lamotrigine plasma levels are doubled by Valproate. This is why the Valproate dose is reduced by 25% in patients who take Lamotrigine.
Primidone and Phenobarbital lower Lamotrigine plasma levels by as much as forty percent. Any woman who takes oral contraceptives can have their Lamotrigine plasma levels reduced by fifty percent.
Alcohol can exacerbate the severity of Lamotrigine side effects.
Lamotrigine during Pregnancy and While Nursing
The FDA has placed Lamotrigine in Category C. This means that animal studies have shown that the fetus can be adversely affected by Lamotrigine, but human studies are inadequate and do not provide scientists with conclusive evidence. Pregnant women who are epileptic still benefit from Lamotrigine despite the potential risks.
Can Children and Young Adults Take Lamotrigine?
In the United States, Lamotrigine is only prescribed to patients over the age of sixteen because the consensus is that the risk of side effects are severe and fatal in young people. However, in other countries around the world, Lamotrigine is given to children and young adults.
Lamotrigine and the Elderly
The same belief held about Lamotrigine for children, and young adults are the same for senior people. The evidence to support Lamotrigine as a treatment for psychiatric problems in elderly patients is still insufficient and therefore inconclusive.
Lamotrigine is an effective treatment for sufferers of epilepsy. It treats not only seizures but a variety of psychiatric conditions. The risks for any Lamotrigine side effects are low, and most of the side effects that could occur are common, not severe. All patients currently on Lamotrigine must take the medication as prescribed by their doctor and educate their doctor and/or pharmacist with details about their lifestyle and personal health. To read in-depth information about the side effects of other medications, please visit sideeffectanswers.com.