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What Is Oxcarbazepine?

By Thomma Grindstaff
Updated May 17, 2024
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Oxcarbazepine is an anticonvulsant medication that helps regulate the brain's electrical impulses, thereby reducing seizures. The drug is used to treat epilepsy in both adults and children by controlling seizure activity. Since it also works as a mood stabilizer, it is used to treat mood disorders, including bipolar disorder and anxiety.

As an anticonvulsant, oxcarbazepine is effective in controlling seizures in patients who suffer from epilepsy. Oxcarbazepine slows down nerve impulses in the brain that are abnormal or excessive and can lead to seizures. The medication cannot cure epilepsy or other seizure disorders, but it can help to lessen the frequency and severity of the seizures.

Since another effect of oxcarbazepine is a lessening of anxiety in patients and an overall stabilization of mood, it is sometimes prescribed to treat bipolar disorder, a mental illness in which patients cycle between periods of depression and periods of mania. The medicine is sometimes used to treat anxiety disorders and clinical depression. It is also effective in treating motor tics, which are involuntary, brief movements of the body.

Oxcarbazepine is available in either liquid or tablet form. It should be taken exactly as prescribed by a medical professional. Doctors often start patients on low doses of the medication and then increase the dosage only as needed. Once on a regimen of oxcarbazepine, patients should not suddenly discontinue the medication. If they do, their seizure activity could worsen.

Common side effects of oxcarbazepine include nausea, dizziness and fatigue. Other side effects may arise such as tremors, headaches or abnormal gait. The medication can cause disturbances such as constipation or diarrhea, and it can also lead to low blood pressure. Patients should talk to their doctors about any side effects that persist or get worse. Patients who are taking oxcarbazepine should seek immediate medical attention if they experience skin swelling or rash, since either of these side effects could be a sign of a severe allergic reaction.

Patients should talk to their doctors before taking oxcarbazepine if they have histories of kidney or liver disease or if they continue to suffer from either of these conditions. Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers must exercise caution with this medication and explicitly follow the instructions of their doctors. Since oxcarbazepine may interact with other drugs, patients should tell their doctors all the medications they are currently taking. Patients should avoid driving, operating heavy machines and using alcohol while taking this medication, which commonly causes drowsiness.

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