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Healthnotes Index:

Valproic Acid

Medical Alert

Your condition can cause complications in a medical emergency. For information about enrolling in MedicAlert, call 1-888-633-4298 (US) or 1-800-668-1507 (Canada).

Warning

Rarely, this medication has caused serious (sometimes fatal) liver problems, usually within the first 6 months of starting treatment. Laboratory tests should be performed before you start treatment and periodically during treatment, especially within the first 6 months, to monitor this side effect.

The risk of serious liver problems is increased in children younger than 2 years, especially if they have an inherited metabolic disorder, severe seizure disorder with mental retardation, organic brain disease, or if they take more than one seizure medication. Talk with the doctor about the risks and benefits of using this medication in children younger than 2 years.

Due to an increased risk for liver problems, people with certain inherited metabolic disorders (such as Alpers-Huttenlocher syndrome) should not use this medication. Children younger than 2 years who might have these disorders should not use this medication. Children older than 2 years who might have these disorders should be closely monitored during treatment with valproate sodium. Talk to your doctor for details.

This medication has rarely caused severe (sometimes fatal) disease of the pancreas (pancreatitis). This may occur at any time during treatment and can quickly worsen.

Tell your doctor right away if you develop symptoms of liver problems or pancreatitis such as unusual tiredness, weakness, swelling of the face, stomach/abdominal pain, loss of appetite, or vomiting.

Taking this medication during pregnancy can cause birth defects and may lower your child's IQ. Women of childbearing age should discuss the risks and benefits of this medication, other treatment options, and use of reliable forms of birth control with their doctor. If you are planning pregnancy, become pregnant, or think you may be pregnant, immediately talk to your doctor. If you are taking valproate sodium only to prevent migraine headaches, this medication must not be used during pregnancy. If you are taking valproate sodium to treat seizures or mental/mood disorders, do not stop taking this medication unless directed by your doctor. Untreated seizures and mental/mood disorders are serious conditions that can harm both a pregnant woman and her unborn baby.

Precautions

See also Warning section.

Before taking valproate sodium, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or to valproic acid or divalproex sodium; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.

Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: liver disease, pancreatitis, certain metabolic disorders (such as urea cycle disorders, Alpers-Huttenlocher syndrome), alcohol abuse, bleeding problems, brain disease (dementia), kidney disease, low body water (dehydration), poor nutrition.

Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).

This drug may make you dizzy or drowsy or cause blurred vision. Do not drive, use machinery, or do any activity that requires alertness or clear vision until you are sure you can perform such activities safely. Limit alcoholic beverages.

Older adults may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug, especially drowsiness, dizziness, unsteadiness, or tremor. Drowsiness, dizziness, unsteadiness can increase the risk of falling.

This medication is not recommended for use during pregnancy. It may harm an unborn baby. See also Warning section.

This medication passes into breast milk. While there have been no reports of harm to nursing infants, consult your doctor before breast-feeding.

Side Effects

See also Warning section.

Diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness, hair loss, blurred/double vision, change in menstrual periods, ringing in the ears, shakiness (tremor), unsteadiness, weight changes may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, notify 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 immediately if any of these serious side effects occur: signs of infection (e.g., fever, persistent sore throat).

Tell your doctor immediately if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur: chest pain, easy bruising/unexplained bleeding, fast/slow/irregular heartbeat, swelling of hands/feet, uncontrolled eye movement (nystagmus), feeling cold/shivering, rapid breathing, loss of consciousness.

A small number of people who take anticonvulsants for any condition (such as seizure, bipolar disorder, pain) may experience depression, suicidal thoughts/attempts, or other mental/mood problems. Tell your doctor immediately 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 immediately if any of these highly unlikely but very serious side effects occur: dark urine, persistent nausea/vomiting, severe stomach/abdominal pain, yellowing eyes or skin.

Severe (sometimes fatal) brain disorder (encephalopathy) has rarely occurred, particularly in patients with certain metabolic disorders (urea cycle disorders). Tell your doctor immediately if you develop unexplained weakness, vomiting, or sudden mental/mood changes (such as confusion).

A serious allergic reaction to this drug is unlikely, but seek immediate medical attention if it occurs. Symptoms of a serious allergic reaction include: 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.

In the US -

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

In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.

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RxAnswers™ is a copyrighted combined product from Aisle7 and First DataBank, Inc.

Drug information is selected from data included with permission and copyrighted by First DataBank, Inc. This is a summary and does not contain all possible information about this product. For complete information about this product or your specific health needs, ask your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional if you have any questions about this product or your medical condition. This information is not intended as individual medical advice and does not substitute for the knowledge and judgment of your healthcare professional. This information does not contain any assurances that this product is safe, effective or appropriate for you.

This information is intended only for residents of the United States. Products sold under the same brand names in other countries may contain different ingredients.

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There are some limitations on the information provided in “Nutrient Interactions.” Do NOT rely solely on the information in this article. Please read the disclaimer.

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Information expires June 2015.


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