Carbamazepine (By mouth)


Carbamazepine (kar-ba-MAZ-e-peen)

Treats seizures. Also treats nerve pain and bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness.

Brand Name(s)

Carbatrol, Tegretol, Epitol, Equetro, Tegretol-XR, Tegretol XR

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used

Do not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to carbamazepine or to certain medicines for depression (such as amitriptyline, desipramine, imipramine, nortriptyline, protriptyline). Do not use this medicine if you are pregnant or if you have had bone marrow depression (low blood counts). Do not use this medicine if you use nefazodone (Serzone®) or certain medicines for HIV/AIDS (such as delavirdine, efavirenz, Atripla®, Rescriptor®, Sustiva®). Do not use this medicine if you also use an MAO inhibitor (MAOI, such as Eldepryl®, Marplan®, Nardil®, or Parnate®)I) or if you have used an MAOI in the last 14 days.

How to Use This Medicine

Long Acting Capsule, Liquid, Tablet, Chewable Tablet, Long Acting Tablet

  • Your doctor will tell you how much of this medicine to use and how often. Do not use more medicine or use it more often than your doctor tells you to.
  • It is best to take this medicine with food or milk.
  • Swallow the extended-release tablet or extended-release capsule whole. Do not crush, break, or chew it. Do not use an extended-release tablet that is cracked or chipped.
  • If you cannot swallow the extended-release capsule, you may open it and pour the medicine into a small amount of soft food such as pudding, yogurt, or applesauce. Stir this mixture well and swallow it without chewing.
  • The chewable tablet must be chewed before you swallow it.
  • Measure the oral liquid medicine with a marked measuring spoon, oral syringe, or medicine cup.
  • Tegretol® tablets work differently than Tegretol® oral suspension, even at the same dose (number of milligrams). Do not switch from the tablets to the oral suspension unless your doctor tells you to.
  • Tegretol® may be used alone or together with other seizure medicines. Ask your doctor first before you take any other seizure medicine together with Tegretol®.
  • This medicine should come with a Medication Guide. Read and follow these instructions carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions. Ask your pharmacist for the Medication Guide if you do not have one.

If a dose is missed:

  • If you miss a dose or forget to use your medicine, use it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then to use the medicine and skip the missed dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.

How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine

  • Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.
  • Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
  • Keep all medicine away from children and never share your medicine with anyone.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you also use acetaminophen, acetazolamide (Diamox®), buspirone (Buspar®), cimetidine (Tagamet®), clobazam (Frisium®), danazol (Danocrine®), isoniazid (Nydrazid®), levothyroxine (Levoxyl®), lithium (Eskalith®, Lithobid®), loratadine (Claritin®), methadone (Dolophine®), niacinamide or nicotinamide (Vitamin B3), pancuronium (Pavulon®), praziquantel (Biltricide®), propoxyphene (Darvon®), quinine (Qualaquin®), quinupristin/dalfopristin (Synercid®), theophylline (Theo-Dur®), tramadol (Ultram®), valproate (Depakote®), zileuton (Zyflo®), or a blood thinner (such as dicumarol, warfarin, Coumadin®, Jantoven®).
  • Tell your doctor if you also use cancer medicines (such as cisplatin, doxorubicin, Adriamycin®, Platinol®), medicine for depression (such as amitriptyline, bupropion, citalopram, clomipramine, desipramine, fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, mirtazapine, nortriptyline, trazodone, Anafranil®, Celexa®, Elavil®, Luvox®, Wellbutrin®), medicine for seizures (such as ethosuximide, felbamate, lamotrigine, methsuximide, oxcarbazepine, phenobarbital, phenytoin, primidone, tiagabine, topiramate, zonisamide, Dilantin®, Felbatol®, Mysoline®), medicine for sleeping or nerves (such as alprazolam, clonazepam, diazepam, lorazepam, midazolam, triazolam, Xanax®), medicine for mental illness (such as clozapine, haloperidol, olanzapine, quetiapine, risperidone, ziprasidone, Geodon®, Haldol®, Risperdal®), an antibiotic (such as clarithromycin, clotrimazole, doxycycline, erythromycin, fluconazole, itraconazole, ketoconazole, rifampin, troleandomycin, Diflucan®, Nizoral®, Rifadin®, Rimactane®, Tao®), blood pressure medicines (such as diltiazem, felodipine, verapamil, Calan®, Cardizem®, Isoptin®, Verelan®), a diuretic (water pill, such as furosemide, hydrochlorothiazide, Lasix®), certain medicine for HIV/AIDS (such as indinavir, nelfinavir, ritonavir, saquinavir, Crixivan®), or medicine for malaria (such as chloroquine, mefloquine, Aralen®, Lariam®).
  • Birth control pills, implants, or shots will not work as well while you are using this medicine. To keep from getting pregnant, use another form of birth control together with the pills, implants, or shots.
  • Do not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while you are using this medicine.
  • Tell your doctor if you are using any medicines that make you sleepy. These include sleeping pills, cold and allergy medicine, narcotic pain relievers, and sedatives.
  • Do not drink alcohol while you are using this medicine.

Warnings While Using This Medicine

  • Using this medicine while you are pregnant can harm your unborn baby. Use an effective form of birth control to keep from getting pregnant. If you think you have become pregnant while using the medicine, tell your doctor right away.
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are breastfeeding or if you have kidney disease, liver disease, blood disease, glaucoma, heart block, heart disease, heart rhythm problems, low sodium in the blood, porphyria, or if you have had a mental illness. Tell your doctor if you have had an allergic reaction to any other medicines (especially seizure medicines).
  • Tell your doctor if you are Asian or have Asian ancestry. You may need to be tested for HLA-B*1502, which is a risk factor for severe skin reactions.
  • Tegretol® suspension contains sorbitol and should not be given to patients with fructose intolerance.
  • Serious skin reactions can occur with this medicine. Check with your doctor right away if you have blistering, peeling, or loose skin, red skin lesions, severe acne or skin rash, sores or ulcers on the skin, a fever, or chills while you are using this medicine.
  • Check with your doctor right away if you have a fever, a sore throat, swollen glands, unusual tiredness, or easy bruising. These could be symptoms of a serious blood problem.
  • This medicine can increase thoughts of suicide. Tell your doctor right away if you start to feel more depressed and have thoughts about hurting yourself. Report any unusual thoughts or behaviors that trouble you, especially if they are new or getting worse quickly.
  • Check with your doctor right away if you have a fever, dark urine, headache, stomach pain, unusual tiredness, or yellow eyes or skin. These could be symptoms of serious kidney or liver problems.
  • Do not stop using this medicine suddenly without asking your doctor. You may need to slowly decrease your dose before stopping it completely.
  • Make sure any doctor or dentist who treats you knows that you are using this medicine. This medicine may affect the results of certain medical tests.
  • This medicine may make you dizzy or drowsy. Do not drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous until you know how this medicine affects you.
  • Your doctor will need to check your blood or urine at regular visits while you are using this medicine. Be sure to keep all appointments.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Blistering, peeling, red skin rash
  • Change in how much or how often you urinate
  • Chest pain, trouble breathing, cold sweat, bluish-colored skin
  • Confusion, problems with memory, muscle twitching, problems with balance, walking, or speech
  • Dark-colored urine or pale stools, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, pain in your upper stomach, yellow skin or eyes
  • Fast, slow, or pounding heartbeat
  • Fever, chills, cough, sore throat, or sores in your mouth
  • Lightheadedness or fainting
  • Swelling in your hands, ankles, or feet
  • Swollen, painful, or tender lymph glands in your neck, armpit, or groin
  • Unusual bleeding, bruising, or weakness
  • Unusual thoughts or behavior, thoughts of hurting yourself or others

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Anxiety, agitation, depression, restlessness
  • Constipation, heartburn, upset stomach
  • Dizziness, drowsiness, tiredness
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache or back pain
  • Mild skin rash or itching skin

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Version Info

  • Last Reviewed on 06/12/2013

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This page was last updated: September 18, 2013

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