Topamax (topiramate) was originally FDA-approved as a seizure medicine, also called an anticonvulsant. Topiramate is used to treat seizures in adults and children who are at least 2 years old.
Topamax is also used to prevent migraine headaches in adults and teenagers who are at least 12 years old. This medicine will only prevent migraine headaches or reduce the number of attacks. It will not treat a headache that has already begun.
Topamax may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
Read the Medication Guide and, if available, the Patient Information Leaflet provided by your pharmacist before you start taking topiramate and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Take this medication by mouth with or without food as directed by your doctor, usually twice daily. Swallow the tablets whole since breaking them may leave a bitter taste. To prevent kidney stones from forming, drink plenty of liquids while taking this medication unless your doctor instructs you otherwise.
Dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment. For children, the dosage is also based on weight. Your doctor will gradually increase your dose to reduce your risk of side effects. For some conditions, you may start treatment with topiramate once daily at bedtime and slowly increase your dose to twice a day. It may take several weeks or months to reach the best dose for you and to get the full benefit from this medication.
Take this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, take it at the same times each day. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor. Some conditions may become worse when this drug is suddenly stopped. Your dose may need to be gradually decreased.
Tell your doctor if your condition persists or if it worsens.
Topiramate can increase the level of acid in your blood (metabolic acidosis). This can weaken your bones, cause kidney stones, or cause growth problems in children or harm to an unborn baby. You may need blood tests to make sure you do not have metabolic acidosis, especially if you are pregnant.
Some people have thoughts about suicide while taking an anticonvulsant. Your doctor will need to check your progress at regular visits while you are using Topamax. Your family or other caregivers should also be alert to changes in your mood or symptoms.
Do not start or stop taking Topamax during pregnancy without your doctor's advice. Topiramate may increase the risk of low birth weight and cleft lip and/or cleft palate in a newborn. There may be other seizure medicine that can be more safely used during pregnancy. Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant.
Topiramate can make birth control pills less effective. Use a barrier form of birth control (such as a condom or diaphragm with spermicide) to prevent pregnancy while taking Topamax.
Topiramate can pass into breast milk. It may not be safe to breast-feed a baby while you are using this medicine. Ask your doctor about any risks. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding.
Tiredness, drowsiness, dizziness, loss of coordination, tingling of the hands/feet, loss of appetite, bad taste in your mouth, diarrhea, and weight loss may occur. Mental problems such as confusion, slowed thinking, trouble concentrating or paying attention, nervousness, memory problems, or speech/language problems may also occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Tell your doctor right away if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur: signs of kidney stones (such as severe back/side/abdominal/groin pain, fever, chills, painful/frequent urination, bloody/pink urine).
A small number of people who take anticonvulsants for any condition (such as seizures, bipolar disorder, pain) may experience depression, suicidal thoughts/attempts, or other mental/mood problems. Tell your doctor right away if you or your family/caregiver notice any unusual/sudden changes in your mood, thoughts, or behavior including signs of depression, suicidal thoughts/attempts, thoughts about harming yourself.
Tell your doctor right away if any of these rare but serious side effects occur: rapid breathing, fast/slow/irregular heartbeat, bone pain, broken bones, loss of consciousness, unusual bleeding/bruising.
Rarely, topiramate may cause a very serious eye problem, generally within 1 month of starting treatment. If untreated, this eye problem can lead to permanent blindness. Therefore, get medical help right away if any of these side effects occur: sudden vision changes (such as decreased vision, blurred vision), eye pain/redness.
This medication can rarely cause a serious metabolic problem (high amount of ammonia in the blood), especially if you are also taking valproic acid. Tell your doctor right away if you experience sudden/unexplained tiredness, vomiting, or mental changes (such as decreased alertness).
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
How should I use this medicine?
Take this medicine by mouth with a glass of water. Follow the directions on the prescription label. Do not crush or chew. You may take this medicine with meals. Take your medicine at regular intervals. Do not take it more often than directed.
Talk to your pediatrician regarding the use of this medicine in children. Special care may be needed. While this drug may be prescribed for children as young as 2 years of age for selected conditions, precautions do apply.
What if I miss a dose?
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you can. If your next dose is to be taken in less than 6 hours, then do not take the missed dose. Take the next dose at your regular time. Do not take double or extra doses.
What should I watch for while using this medicine?
Visit your doctor or health care professional for regular checks on your progress. Do not stop taking this medicine suddenly. This increases the risk of seizures if you are using this medicine to control epilepsy. Wear a medical identification bracelet or chain to say you have epilepsy or seizures, and carry a card that lists all your medicines.
This medicine can decrease sweating and increase your body temperature. Watch for signs of deceased sweating or fever, especially in children. Avoid extreme heat, hot baths, and saunas. Be careful about exercising, especially in hot weather. Contact your health care provider right away if you notice a fever or decrease in sweating.
You should drink plenty of fluids while taking this medicine. If you have had kidney stones in the past, this will help to reduce your chances of forming kidney stones.
If you have stomach pain, with nausea or vomiting and yellowing of your eyes or skin, call your doctor immediately.
You may get drowsy, dizzy, or have blurred vision. Do not drive, use machinery, or do anything that needs mental alertness until you know how this medicine affects you. To reduce dizziness, do not sit or stand up quickly, especially if you are an older patient. Alcohol can increase drowsiness and dizziness. Avoid alcoholic drinks.
If you notice blurred vision, eye pain, or other eye problems, seek medical attention at once for an eye exam.
The use of this medicine may increase the chance of suicidal thoughts or actions. Pay special attention to how you are responding while on this medicine. Any worsening of mood, or thoughts of suicide or dying should be reported to your health care professional right away.
This medicine may increase the chance of developing metabolic acidosis. If left untreated, this can cause kidney stones, bone disease, or slowed growth in children. Symptoms include breathing fast, fatigue, loss of appetite, irregular heartbeat, or loss of consciousness. Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of these side effects. Also, tell your doctor about any surgery you plan on having while taking this medicine since this may increase your risk for metabolic acidosis.
Birth control pills may not work properly while you are taking this medicine. Talk to your doctor about using an extra method of birth control.