How does this medication work? What will it do for me?
Eslicarbazepine belongs to the class of medications called anti-epileptics. It is used in addition to other medications to manage certain types of seizures that have are not well controlled with other medications.
This medication may be available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms or approved for all of the conditions discussed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here.
Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.
Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.
What form(s) does this medication come in?
Each white, oblong tablet, engraved with “ESL 200” contains eslicarbazepine 200 mg. Nonmedicinal ingredients: croscarmellose sodium, magnesium stearate and povidone.
Each white, circular, biconvex tablet, engraved on one side with “ESL 400” contains eslicarbazepine 400 mg. Nonmedicinal ingredients: croscarmellose sodium, magnesium stearate and povidone.
Each white, oblong tablet, engraved with “ESL 600” contains eslicarbazepine 600 mg. Nonmedicinal ingredients: croscarmellose sodium, magnesium stearate and povidone.
Each white, oblong tablet, engraved with “ESL 800” contains eslicarbazepine 800 mg. Nonmedicinal ingredients: croscarmellose sodium, magnesium stearate and povidone.
How should I use this medication?
The recommended starting dose of eslicarbazepine is 400 mg taken once daily. Depending on how well it is working for you, your doctor will gradually increase the dose. The maximum daily dose of eslicarbazepine is 1200 mg daily, but many people find that 800 mg is enough to control seizures.
Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.
Eslicarbazepine may be taken with food or on an empty stomach. The tablets may be swallowed whole or crushed, if swallowing tablets is a problem. Sprinkle crushed tablets on a soft food, such as applesauce, and eat it within 10 minutes.
It is important to take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor.
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
Store this medication at room temperature, protect it from light and moisture, and keep it out of the reach of children.
Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.
Who should NOT take this medication?
Do not take this medication if you:
- are allergic to eslicarbazepine or any ingredients of the medication
- are allergic to carbamazepine or oxcarbazepine
- have a certain type of heart rhythm disorder (heart block)
What side effects are possible with this medication?
Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.
The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.
The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.
Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.
Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not seek medical attention.
Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:
- changes to heart rhythm (e.g., irregular pulse, fast or slow heartbeat, fainting, shortness of breath)
- poor coordination or trouble with walking
- signs of liver problems (e.g., nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes, dark urine, pale stools)
- symptoms of low sodium in the blood (e.g., tiredness, weakness, confusion, achy, stiff or uncoordinated muscles)
- vision changes (e.g., blurred vision, double vision)
Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:
- signs of a serious allergic reaction (e.g., abdominal cramps, difficulty breathing, nausea and vomiting, or swelling of the face and throat)
- thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself or others
Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.
Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?
Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.
Anemia: Similar medications to treat seizures may cause low levels of red blood cells. It is not known if eslicarbazepine will cause the same effect. If you experience symptoms of reduced red blood cell count (anemia), such as shortness of breath, feeling unusually tired or pale skin, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Your doctor will do blood tests regularly to monitor the number of specific types of blood cells, including red blood cells, in your blood.
Birth control: Eslicarbazepine, like other anticonvulsants, may reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills. Women taking eslicarbazepine should use an alternative, non-hormonal birth control method such as condoms. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.
Bleeding: Similar medications to treat seizures may cause a reduced number of platelets in the blood, which can make it difficult to stop cuts from bleeding. It is not known if eslicarbazepine will cause the same effect. If you notice any signs of bleeding, such as frequent nosebleeds, unexplained bruising, or black and tarry stools, notify your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will order routine blood tests to make sure potential problems are caught early.
Bone strength: Long-term use of antiepileptic medications has been associated with a risk of weakened or brittle bones. If you have osteoporosis, are at risk for developing osteoporosis, or have a history of disease affecting your bones, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Drowsiness/reduced alertness: Eslicarbazepine may cause dizziness and drowsiness affecting your ability to drive or operate machinery. Avoid these and other hazardous tasks until you have determined how this medication affects you.
Heart rhythm: Eslicarbazepine can cause changes to the normal rhythm of the heart. If you have heart block, irregular heart rhythm, angina, or ischemic heart disease, this medication may make these conditions worse. If you have heart disease, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Infection: Similar medications to treat seizures can reduce the number of cells that fight infection in the body (white blood cells). It is not known if eslicarbazepine will cause the same effect. If you notice signs of an infection, such as fever or chills, diarrhea, shortness of breath, prolonged dizziness, headache, stiff neck, weight loss, or listlessness, contact your doctor. Let your doctor know if you are experiencing more frequent infections than normal. Your doctor will do blood tests regularly to monitor the number of specific types of blood cells in your blood.
Kidney function: Kidney disease or decreased kidney function can cause eslicarbazepine to build up in the body, causing side effects. If you have kidney disease or decreased kidney function, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Laboratory tests: Eslicarbazepine may cause low sodium levels. Get immediate medical attention if you notice the symptoms of very low sodium, such as nausea, headache, weakness, sluggishness, confusion, or a general feeling of being unwell. This medication may also affect the results of thyroid tests.
Liver function: Eslicarbazepine can cause decreased liver function and may cause liver failure. If you have liver problems, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed. Your doctor may want to test your liver function regularly with blood tests while you are taking this medication.
If you experience symptoms of liver problems such as fatigue, feeling unwell, loss of appetite, nausea, yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes, dark urine, pale stools, abdominal pain or swelling, and itchy skin, contact your doctor immediately.
Skin reactions: In uncommon instances, eslicarbazepine has been linked to serious skin reactions. If you experience symptoms of a serious skin reaction (such as skin rash; redness of the skin; skin peeling; or blisters on the lips, eyes, or mouth) with fever, chills, headache, cough, or body aches, contact your physician immediately.
Stopping the medication: Suddenly stopping eslicarbazepine can cause increased seizures. If this medication needs to be stopped, discuss with your doctor how you should gradually reduce the dose.
Suicidal or agitated behaviour: People with seizure disorders sometimes experience depression. If you have depression or bipolar disorder, you may be at an increased risk of feeling agitated (restless, anxious, aggressive, emotional, and feeling not like yourself), or wanting to hurt yourself or others. If you experience these side effects or notice them in a family member who is taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.
Pregnancy: The potential risk to a developing baby is not known if the mother takes eslicarbazepine during pregnancy. It is possible that the medication may cause birth defects to the unborn baby. This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately
Breast-feeding: This medication passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking eslicarbazepine, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.
Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children.
What other drugs could interact with this medication?
There may be an interaction between eslicarbazepine and any of the following:
If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:
- stop taking one of the medications,
- change one of the medications to another,
- change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
- leave everything as is.
An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.
Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.