What Are the Side Effects of Topiramate?

C. Daw

Topiramate, commonly called Topamax, is an anticonvulsant drug that is primarily used to prevent seizures within people with epilepsy. As with many medications, there are side effects associated with topiramate, ranging from mild to severe. The medication may affect numerous body functions, such as coordination, vision and mental and emotional stability.

Suicidal thoughts are one possible side effect of topiramate.
Suicidal thoughts are one possible side effect of topiramate.

Patients have seen success in preventing reoccurring seizures by using the prescription medication, so it continues to be prescribed despite potential side effects. This drug has also been used to treat bipolar disease, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and to control migraine headaches.

Some patients complain of mild side effects of topiramate. A few of them relate directly to how the body responds to the drug and can include extreme tiredness, dizziness, numbness or tingling, nausea and diarrhea. Some of the other side effects deal with the workings of the brain and how it affects the body, including problems with memory and coordination. These side effects are generally mild and do not become severe for the patient, and may even diminish over time. Most patients are able to continue using this prescription drug even with these mild side effects.

Other patients complain of more serious side effects of topiramate that may become a cause for concern. These side effects include psychomotor slowing down, severe memory loss, extreme fatigue and confusion. These side effects can become so severe that the drug may need to be discontinued. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also released their own warnings about the potential side effects of this drug. This warning addresses the possibility of acute myopia and glaucoma, which can cause a person to have severe pain in the eyes and the surrounding areas, as well as blurred vision.

Increased suicidal thoughts have also been linked to be one of the side effects of topiramate. This is seen more predominantly in children who are using this drug, but should be a factor to consider for everyone taking this drug. Patients should be closely monitored for any signs of severe depression or unusual and odd behaviors. If any of these symptoms do occur, the doctor will need to evaluate if the benefits outweigh the risks of the medication. Routine appointments with a certified counselor are a good idea for people using this medication, especially children.

If any of these side effects of topiramate should appear, the patient should contact their doctor immediately, so the doctor can determine the severity of the side effect and advise the patient if they should continue to use the drug or not. The doctor will also be able to prescribe another anticonvulsant medication to treat the patient.

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