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Equetro Warnings and Precautions

Understanding Equetro warnings and precautions before taking the drug can help ensure a safe treatment process. Some of these precautions include possible drug interactions, the safety of taking the drug when pregnant or breastfeeding, and the risk of serious skin reactions in some people who take the drug. Certain people -- such as those who are allergic to tricyclic antidepressants and those who have had bone marrow depression -- should not take Equetro at all.

Equetro: What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?

You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking Equetro® (carbamazepine) if you have:
 
  • Absence seizures (petit mal seizures)
  • Anemia or other blood disorders
  • An irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia)
  • Glaucoma
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease, including kidney failure (renal failure)
  • Liver disease, including liver failure, cirrhosis, or hepatitis
  • Thyroid problems
  • Any allergies, including allergies to food, dyes, or preservatives.
     
Also let your healthcare provider know if you are:
 
  • Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
  • Breastfeeding.
     
You should also make sure to tell your healthcare provider about all of the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
 

Specific Equetro Warnings and Precautions

Some warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking Equetro include:
 
  • Rarely, Equetro can cause very dangerous skin reactions known as Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) or toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN). These problems start out as skin rashes but can progress to permanent disfigurement or even loss of life. Not every skin rash in people taking Equetro will be related to SJS or TEN. However, because of the seriousness of such problems, it is recommended that people stop taking Equetro immediately at the first sign of a rash, unless it is very clear that the rash is not related to Equetro. In most (but not all) cases, SJS and TEN reactions occur within the first month of starting Equetro.
     
  • Interestingly, SJS and TEN reactions to Equetro are much more common in people of Asian descent, who are more likely to have a specific gene (known as HLA-B*1502) that appears to increase the risk of such problems. If you are of Asian descent, your healthcare provider may choose to test for the gene before recommending Equetro for you.
      
  • Equetro can cause low levels of sodium in the blood (hyponatremia), which can be serious. Let your healthcare provider know if you have possible signs of hyponatremia, such as:

 

    • Nausea
    • A general ill feeling
    • Headaches
    • Lethargy
    • Confusion
    • Decreased consciousness
    • Seizures.

 

  • Equetro can cause very serious cases of anemia or other low blood counts, which may put you at risk of bleeding or serious infections. These problems, while very rare, can be fatal. Your healthcare provider should test your blood counts (using a blood test) before you start taking Equetro and periodically thereafter.
     
  • Equetro can make agitation, confusion, or psychosis worse. Tell your healthcare provider if you experience any unusual changes in thoughts or behavior while taking Equetro.
     
  • Equetro should not be stopped suddenly (see Equetro Withdrawal).
     
  • Equetro can increase the pressure within the eye, which can be especially dangerous for people with glaucoma.
     
  • Sometimes, Equetro can make seizures worse in people with absence seizures (petit mal seizures). Due to this problem (and because Equetro is not generally effective at treating absence seizures), Equetro is usually not recommended for people with absence seizures.
     
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you have heart, liver, or kidney disease, as Equetro may not be the best choice for you. Your body may not handle Equetro the way it should, or you may be at an increased risk of certain Equetro side effects.
     
  • Make sure to see how Equetro affects you before driving or operating any machinery, as Equetro can cause drowsiness and dizziness. In general, you should avoid alcohol while taking Equetro, due to the risk of increased drowsiness.
     
  • Your healthcare provider should check your liver and kidney function (using a blood test) before you start Equetro and periodically thereafter. Your healthcare provider should also check your eyes regularly, as Equetro can cause eye problems.
     
  • Equetro can cause a decrease in thyroid function (hypothyroidism) in some people.
     
  • Equetro has been reported to interfere with some pregnancy tests.
     
  • Equetro can potentially interact with certain other medications (see Equetro Drug Interactions).
     
  • Equetro is considered a pregnancy Category D medication. This means that it is probably not safe for many pregnant women. Talk with your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of taking the drug during pregnancy (see Equetro and Pregnancy).
     
  • Equetro passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start breastfeeding, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to taking the drug (see Equetro and Breastfeeding).

 

  • Early evidence suggests that seizure medications, including Equetro, may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behaviors (see Seizure Medications and Suicide for more information).
     
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