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Dilantin (Generic Phenytoin)

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Why is this medication prescribed?

Phenytoin is a medication primarily prescribed to control and prevent seizures in individuals with epilepsy. It belongs to a class of drugs known as anticonvulsants. Additionally, it may be used to prevent seizures during or after brain surgery. Phenytoin works by stabilizing electrical activity in the brain, which helps to prevent seizures.

How should this medicine be used?

When using phenytoin, it’s essential to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. Typically, it’s taken by mouth in the form of tablets or capsules. Here are some general guidelines for its use:

  • Dosage: The dosage of phenytoin varies depending on factors such as the individual’s age, weight, medical condition, and response to treatment. Your doctor will determine the appropriate dosage for you.
  • Frequency: Phenytoin is usually taken one to four times a day, as prescribed by your doctor. It’s important to take it consistently at the same times each day to maintain steady levels in your bloodstream.
  • Administration: Phenytoin tablets or capsules should be swallowed whole with a full glass of water. Do not crush, chew, or break them, as this can alter the release mechanism of the medication.
  • Food Interactions: Phenytoin absorption can be affected by food. Some people may need to take it on an empty stomach to ensure proper absorption, while others may need to take it with food to minimize gastrointestinal side effects. Follow your doctor’s instructions regarding food and medication interactions.
  • Monitoring: Your doctor will monitor your blood levels of phenytoin regularly to ensure they are within the therapeutic range. This helps to prevent both seizures and potential side effects associated with either low or high levels of the medication in your bloodstream.
  • Do Not Suddenly Stop: It’s crucial not to stop taking phenytoin abruptly without consulting your doctor, as this can lead to an increase in seizures. If you need to discontinue the medication, your doctor will provide guidance on how to gradually reduce the dosage over time.
  • Side Effects: Like all medications, phenytoin can cause side effects. These can include dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, and problems with coordination. If you experience any severe or persistent side effects, inform your doctor promptly.

Always consult your healthcare provider for specific instructions tailored to your individual needs and medical conditions.

Other uses for Ergoloid Mesylates

  • Phenytoin is sometimes used to prevent seizures following brain surgery.
  • It may also be used to treat certain types of irregular heartbeats.

What special precautions should I follow?

Regarding special precautions when using phenytoin, here are some important points to consider:

  • Regular Monitoring: Your doctor will regularly monitor your blood levels of phenytoin to ensure they remain within the therapeutic range. This helps to prevent both seizures and potential side effects associated with either low or high levels of the medication.
  • Liver Function: Phenytoin is metabolized by the liver, so individuals with liver disease may require dosage adjustments or closer monitoring.
  • Bone Health: Long-term use of phenytoin may be associated with decreased bone density, so your doctor may recommend periodic bone density tests and possibly supplementation with calcium and vitamin D.
  • Blood Disorders: Phenytoin can sometimes affect blood cell counts, leading to conditions such as leukopenia (low white blood cell count) or thrombocytopenia (low platelet count). Regular blood tests may be needed to monitor for these effects.
  • Pregnancy: Phenytoin may cause harm to an unborn baby if used during pregnancy. It’s essential to discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant while taking phenytoin.
  • Interactions: Phenytoin can interact with a variety of other medications, including some over-the-counter drugs and herbal supplements. Always inform your doctor about all medications and supplements you are taking to avoid potential interactions.

By following these precautions and working closely with your healthcare provider, you can safely and effectively use phenytoin to manage your medical condition.

What special dietary instructions should I follow?

Special Dietary Instructions:

  • Consistency: Try to maintain a consistent diet while taking phenytoin. Changes in diet, especially in terms of vitamin K intake, can affect the effectiveness of phenytoin.
  • Vitamin K: Avoid sudden changes in vitamin K intake, as it can interfere with the action of phenytoin. However, you don’t need to avoid foods high in vitamin K entirely; just try to keep your intake consistent.

What should I do if I forget a dose?

If you miss a dose of phenytoin, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it’s almost time for your next scheduled dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not double up on doses to make up for a missed one. If you have any concerns or questions about missed doses, consult your doctor or pharmacist for guidance.

What side effects can this medication cause?

Phenytoin, like any medication, can cause side effects in some individuals. These side effects can vary in severity and may affect different people differently. Some common side effects of phenytoin include:

  • Drowsiness: Phenytoin can cause drowsiness or sedation, which may impair your ability to perform tasks that require alertness, such as driving or operating machinery.
  • Dizziness: Some individuals may experience dizziness or lightheadedness while taking phenytoin.
  • Nausea and Vomiting: Phenytoin can irritate the stomach lining, leading to nausea and vomiting in some people.
  • Gum Overgrowth: Long-term use of phenytoin may cause overgrowth of the gums (gingival hyperplasia) in some individuals.
  • Diplopia (Double Vision): Phenytoin can affect eye muscles, leading to double vision or other visual disturbances.
  • Tremor: Some people may experience tremors or shaky movements while taking phenytoin.
  • Skin Rash: Phenytoin can occasionally cause skin rashes or allergic reactions. In rare cases, it may cause severe skin reactions such as Stevens-Johnson syndrome or toxic epidermal necrolysis, which require immediate medical attention.
  • Hair Growth: Phenytoin may cause increased hair growth (hypertrichosis) in some individuals.
  • Changes in Blood Levels: Phenytoin can affect blood cell counts, leading to conditions such as leukopenia (low white blood cell count) or thrombocytopenia (low platelet count). Regular blood tests may be needed to monitor for these effects.
  • Liver Function: Phenytoin can affect liver function in some individuals, leading to elevated liver enzymes. Regular monitoring may be necessary.
  • Mood Changes: Phenytoin can occasionally cause mood changes or behavioral disturbances in some individuals.

It’s important to note that not everyone will experience these side effects, and some individuals may experience side effects not listed here. If you experience any unusual or severe side effects while taking phenytoin, contact your doctor or seek medical attention promptly. Additionally, always inform your healthcare provider of any side effects you experience while taking phenytoin, as they can provide guidance on managing them effectively.

What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?

Storage and Disposal:

  • Storage: Store phenytoin at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light. Avoid storing it in the bathroom, as moisture can degrade the medication. Keep it out of reach of children and pets.
  • Disposal: When disposing of expired or unused phenytoin, follow your local guidelines or any specific instructions provided by your healthcare provider or pharmacist. Do not flush medications down the toilet unless instructed to do so. Instead, consider using a drug take-back program or a medication disposal program in your area.

In case of emergency/overdose

  • Emergency Assistance: In case of an overdose or if you suspect someone has overdosed on phenytoin, seek emergency medical assistance immediately by calling your local emergency services or poison control center.
  • Symptoms of Overdose: Symptoms of phenytoin overdose may include confusion, slurred speech, loss of coordination, rapid eye movements, tremors, uncontrollable eye movements, and unconsciousness.

What other information should I know?

  • Follow Doctor’s Instructions: Always take phenytoin exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not adjust your dosage without consulting your healthcare provider.
  • Regular Monitoring: Your doctor will likely monitor your blood levels of phenytoin regularly to ensure they are within the therapeutic range and to minimize the risk of side effects.
  • Medical Alert: Inform healthcare providers (including dentists and surgeons) that you are taking phenytoin before any medical procedures or surgeries. Phenytoin may interact with certain medications or anesthesia.
  • Avoid Alcohol: Avoid consuming alcohol while taking phenytoin, as it can increase the risk of side effects and may interfere with the medication’s effectiveness.
  • Driving and Operating Machinery: Phenytoin may cause drowsiness, dizziness, or other side effects that can impair your ability to perform tasks requiring alertness. Use caution when driving or operating machinery until you know how phenytoin affects you.
  • Medication Record: Keep a record of all medications you are taking, including phenytoin, and share it with your healthcare provider to avoid potential drug interactions.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: If you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding, discuss the risks and benefits of taking phenytoin with your doctor. Phenytoin may cause harm to an unborn baby or pass into breast milk.

By following these guidelines and staying informed about phenytoin, you can use the medication safely and effectively under the guidance of your healthcare provider.

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