Divalproex

 
What is Divalproex and why is it prescribed?
Divalproex is used to treat certain types of seizures and convulsions. It may be prescribed alone or with other epilepsy medications. The delayed-release tablets are also used to control the manic episodes that occur in bipolar disorder. An extended-release form of this drug is prescribed to prevent migraine headaches. The delayed-release tablets are also used for this purpose. Divalproex can cause serious or even fatal liver damage, especially during the first 6 months of treatment. Children under 2 years of age are the most vulnerable, especially if they are also taking other anticonvulsant medicines and have certain other disorders such as mental retardation. The risk of liver damage decreases with age; but you should always be alert for the following symptoms: loss of seizure control, weakness, dizziness, drowsiness, a general feeling of ill health, facial swelling, loss of appetite, vomiting, and yellowing of the skin and eyes. If you suspect a liver problem, call your doctor immediately. Divalproex has also been known to cause life-threatening damage to the pancreas. This problem can surface at any time, even after years of treatment. Call your doctor immediately if you develop any of the following warning signs: abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, or vomiting.

How should you take Divalproex?
Follow your doctors directions for taking Divalproex. Take the tablet with water and swallow it whole, don't chew it or crush it. It has a special coating to avoid upsetting your stomach. If you are taking the sprinkle capsule, you can swallow it whole or open it and sprinkle the contents on a teaspoon of soft food such as applesauce or pudding. Swallow it immediately, without chewing. The sprinkle capsules are large enough to be opened easily. Divalproex can be taken with meals or snacks to avoid stomach upset. Take it exactly as prescribed. If you miss a dose and you take Divalproex once a day, take your dose as soon as you remember. If you don't remember until the next day, skip the missed dose and return to your regular schedule. Never take two doses at the same time. If you take more than one dose a day, take your dose right away if it's within 6 hours of the scheduled time, and take the rest of the day's doses at equal intervals during the day. Never take two doses at the same time. Store Divalproex at room temperature.

Are there any Divalproex side effects?
Divalproex side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, inform your doctor as soon as possible. More common Divalproex side effects may include abdominal pain, abnormal thinking, breathing difficulty, bronchitis, bruising, constipation, depression, diarrhea, dizziness, emotional changeability, fever, flu symptoms, hair loss, headache, incoordination, indigestion, infection, insomnia, loss of appetite, memory loss, nasal inflammation, nausea, nervousness, ringing in the ears, sleepiness, sore throat, tremor, vision problems, vomiting, weakness, and weight loss or gain. Less common or rare Divalproex side effects may include abnormal dreams, abnormal milk secretion, abnormal walk, aggression, anemia, anxiety, back pain, behavior problems, belching, bleeding, blood disorders, bone pain, breast enlargement, chest pain, chills, coma, confusion, coughing up blood, dental abscess, drowsiness, dry skin, ear inflammation, excessive urination (mainly children) or other urination problems, eye problems, feeling of illness, gas, growth failure in children, hallucinations, hearing problems, heart palpitations, high blood pressure, hostility, increased appetite, increased cough, involuntary rapid movement of eyeball, irregular or painful menstruation, itching, jerky movements, joint pain, lack of muscular coordination, leg cramps, liver problems, loss of bladder or bowel control, muscle or joint pain, muscle weakness, muscle pain, neck pain, nosebleed, overactivity, pneumonia, rapid heartbeat, rickets (mainly children), sedation, seeing "spots before your eyes", sensitivity to light, sinus inflammation, skin eruptions or peeling, skin rash, speech difficulties, stomach and intestinal disorders, swelling of arms and legs due to fluid retention, swollen glands, taste changes, tingling or pins and needles, twitching, urinary problems, vertigo, and vision problems.

What are the possible food and drug interactions when taking Divalproex?
If Divalproex is taken with certain other drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased, or altered. Be sure to inform your doctor of all the prescription and over the counter medications you are taking. Divalproex depresses activity of the central nervous system, and may increase the effects of alcohol. Do not drink alcohol while taking Divalproex. It is especially important to check with your doctor before combining Divalproex with Amitriptyline (Elavil), Aspirin, Barbiturates (such as phenobarbital and Seconal), Blood thinners (such as Coumadin), Cyclosporine (Sandimmune, Neoral), Notriptyline (Pamelor), Oral contraceptives, Other seizure medications (including carbamazepine/Tegretol), clonazepam/Klonopin, ethosuximide/Zarontin, felbamate/Felbatol, lamotrigine/Lamictal, phenytoin/Dilantin, and Primidone/Mysoline), Rifampin (Rifater), Sleep aids (such as Halcion), Tolbutamide (Orinase), Tranquilizers (such as Valium and Xanax), or Zidovudine (Retrovir).

Are there any special warnings about Divalproex?
Divalproex can severely damage the liver. Your doctor will test your liver function before you begin taking Divalproex and at regular intervals thereafter. Divalproex can damage the pancreas. This problem can worsen very rapidly, so be sure to contact your doctor immediately if you develop any symptoms. In people with a rare set of genetic abnormalities called urea cycle disorders, Divalproex may adversely effect the brain. Signs of a developing problem include lack of energy, repeated attacks of vomiting, and mental changes. If you suspect a problem, see your doctor immediately. Divalproex causes some people to become drowsy or less alert. Do not abruptly stop taking Divalproex without first consulting your doctor. A gradual reduction in dosage is usually required. Divalproex prolongs the time it takes blood to clot, which increases your chances of serious bleeding. Divalproex can also increase the effect of painkillers and anesthetics. Before any surgery or dental procedure, make sure the doctor knows you are taking Divalproex. If you are taking Divalproex to prevent migraine, remember that it will not cure a headache once it has started. Some coated particles from the capsules may appear in your stool. This is to be expected, and need not worry you.
 

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