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What is Topiramate?

By Dulce Corazon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Topiramate is the generic name for Topamax®. It is an oral anticonvulsant medication often prescribed in patients with epilepsy. Epilepsy is a disorder of the brain that causes affected patients to have frequent seizures. This medication is usually given to patients who do not respond to other anti-epilepsy drugs. Aside from epilepsy, topiramate is also used in the prevention of migraine headaches and in the treatment of Lennox-Gestaut syndrome, a condition that manifests with developmental delays as well as seizures.

Seizures often result from abnormal activities of nerve cells in the brain. Brain chemicals, also known as neurotransmitters, are important in the communication between these nerve cells. The action of topiramate is believed to affect or alter the production of brain chemicals, thus, seizure in patients are prevented or suppressed.

Doctors often start patients on lower dosages of topiramate, and then increase the dosage gradually until an effective dosage is determined. In children from two to 16 years old, it is usually given in combination with other drugs. Patients are often instructed to maintain regular fluid intake of six to eight glasses daily to prevent the development of kidney stones while taking topiramate. Some patients who are also taking other drugs, like sedatives, antidepressants, and oral contraceptives, are often monitored for side effects due to drug interactions.

Taking topiramate is not recommended for pregnant women and nursing mothers. This drug has been proven to be related to abnormalities in the fetus. It has also been shown to be excreted in the breast milk.

Common side effects that may be observed include weight loss, dizziness, frequent tiredness, and numbness of the extremities. Some patients may experience memory impairment, vision changes, speech problems and coordination difficulty. Other patients also present with tongue swelling, increased salivation, dryness of the mouth, and taste changes. Many patients taking anti-epileptic drugs have increased tendency to develop suicidal thoughts, thus, they should be monitored frequently and observed for behavioral changes.

It is often recommended that patients should take topiramate as prescribed by physicians in order to prevent drug overdose. Symptoms of overdose are seizures, vomiting, blurred vision, stomach pain, and agitation. It is also important to watch out for loss of consciousness, irregular heart rate, and shallow breathing. In such cases, patients should be brought to the attention of medical care for prompt evaluation and treatment.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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