Treats epilepsy and other seizures. Also used to relieve tension, anxiety, nervousness, and insomnia (trouble sleeping).
There may be other brand names for this medicine.
When This Medicine Should Not Be Used
You should not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to phenobarbital or other barbiturate drugs such as pentobarbital, butalbital, or secobarbital. You should not use this medicine if you are pregnant or if you have a history of porphyria.
How to Use This Medicine
- A nurse or other trained health professional will give you this medicine.
- This medicine is given through a needle placed in one of your veins or as a shot into a muscle.
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 are using phenytoin (Dilantin®), disulfiram (Antabuse®), or an MAO inhibitor (MAOI) such as Eldepryl®, Marplan®, Nardil®, or Parnate®. Tell your doctor if you are using valproic acid (Depakene®), digitoxin, or a steroid such as dexamethasone, prednisolone, prednisone, or Medrol®. Your doctor will also need to know if you are using doxycycline, griseofulvin, sodium valproate (Depacon®), or a blood thinner such as warfarin (Coumadin®).
- Birth control pills may not work as well while you are using phenobarbital. To keep from getting pregnant, use another form of birth control such as condoms, a diaphragm, or contraceptive foam or jelly.
- 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 breast feeding, have untreated depression, liver disease, or if you have a history of drug abuse.
- This medicine may be habit-forming. If you feel that the medicine is not working as well, do not use more than your prescribed dose. Call your doctor for instructions.
- Do not stop using this medicine suddenly without asking your doctor. You may need to slowly decrease your dose before stopping it completely.
- This medicine may make you dizzy or drowsy. Avoid driving, using machines, or doing anything else that could be dangerous if you are not alert.
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
- Extreme lightheadedness or fainting.
- Redness, pain, or swelling where the shot was given.
- Severe confusion, drowsiness, or muscle weakness.
- Severe nausea or vomiting.
- Slurred speech or trouble walking.
- Tremors or muscle cramps.
If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:
- Anxiety, irritability, or confusion.
- Constipation, mild nausea or vomiting.
- Drowsiness, dizziness, or depression.
- Trouble sleeping.
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
- Last Reviewed on 06/12/2013
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This page was last updated: June 18, 2013