Dilantin is the brand name of phenytoin, an epilepsy medication that slows down seizure-causing impulses in the brain. It may be used to control seizures, but may not work on all types of seizures. Dilantin belongs to a group of medications called anticonvulsants.
Use Dilantin in the exact manner that your doctor has directed you to. Always follow your doctor’s instructions and read every medication guide and instruction sheet provided. If you take the extended-release capsules, swallow it whole without chewing, breaking, cutting, or opening it. If using the chewable tabs, follow your doctor’s instructions closely as to dosage times. If you take Dilantin liquid, shake the bottle well before measuring, and be sure to measure with the correct tools (not a kitchen spoon) for an accurate dose.
Your doctor may need to perform frequent blood tests while you are on this medication, or any time they prescribe a different form of phenytoin. Inform you doctor if you do not feel that Dilantin in not adequately controlling your seizures, but do not suddenly discontinue use of the medication. Doing so may trigger more frequent seizures. To discontinue the medication, closely follow your doctor’s instructions for tapering your doses.
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember during the same day. If you are already close to due for your next dose, skip the missed dose as you should not take two doses at once.An overdose of phenytoin can be fatal. Overdose symptoms can include some of the following: muscle stiffness or weakness, twitching eye movement, tremors, slurred speech, balance issues, nausea and vomiting, light-headedness, fainting, and breathing problems.
You should not take Dilantin if you already take delavirdine, or if you have allergies to ethotoin, phenytoin, fosphenytoin, or mephenytoin. You should not stop taking Dilantin without consulting your doctor. If you are pregnant, you should not begin Dilantin unless recommended by your doctor as it may harm the fetus. If you become pregnant while taking Dilantin, you should not stop taking Dilantin without consulting your doctor, as seizures during pregnancy may be more dangerous to both the mother and fetus than the effects of the medication.
You should avoid taking Dilantin if you have ever had liver problems related to use of phenytoin or allergic reactions to any similar medications. Consult your physician before taking Dilantin if any of the following apply to you: history of liver disease, history of heart problems, history of diabetes, problems with depression or suicidal thoughts, history of vitamin D deficiency, the genetic enzyme disorder porphyria, or if you are of Asian ancestry, as you may be at an increased risk for having a skin reaction.
The use of Dilantin may render birth control pills less effective. Your doctor may suggest switching to a non-hormonal contraceptive, such as condoms, to avoid becoming pregnant. Inform your doctor immediately if you become pregnant while taking Dilantin. If you continue to use Dilantin while pregnant, your name may be added to a registry to track the effects of the medication on the baby. If you used Dilantin while pregnant, inform your delivering doctor so that they can take the proper steps to ensure you and your child’s safety. If you are breast feeding it may not be safe to take this medication.
Some patients may experience suicidal thoughts while taking Dilantin. Your doctor, family, and/or caregivers should be alert to any mood changes. Report any thoughts of self harm or suicide to your doctor.
Dilantin may cause your gums to swell. To combat this, brush and floss you teeth as well as regularly visiting your dentist.
While taking Dilantin, patients should avoid drinking alcohol as it may increase your risk of seizures or increase the severity of side effects. Alcohol in the bloodstream may increase the levels of phenytoin in your blood and magnify any side effects. Frequent use of alcohol my lower the concentration of phenytoin in the bloodstream, therefore increasing the risk of having a seizure.
Always consult your doctor before taking any new over-the-counter medications or supplements like omeprazole, vitamins, and mineral supplements. You should avoid taking antacids at the same time as Dilantin as they may hinder the medication being absorbed. Until you know how the medication affects you, you should avoid driving, operating heavy machinery, or any other hazardous activities.
Dilantin has over 1200 known drug interactions ranging from mild to severe. Check with your doctor before starting Dilantin about any possible reactions that you may have.
Common side effects to Dilantin may include any of the following: slurred speech, abnormal eye movement, balance issues, muscle control trouble, confusion, and drowsiness. There can be more severe side effects. Call your doctor right away if you experience any of the following: liver problems or yellowing of the skin and eyes, chest pain, abnormal heart beat, any skin reaction no matter how mild, fever, dizziness, sore throat, chills, swollen glands, sores in the mouth or swollen gums, easy bruising, red or purple spots under the skin, unusual bleeding, or loss of appetite.
Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following reactions or symptoms: trouble breathing, swelling in the facial and throat area, hives, fever, burning feeling in your eyes, painful skin, or a purple or red rash that blisters or peels.
You should inform your doctor if you experience any worsening or new symptoms such as: depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, restlessness, hyperactivity, agitation, hostility and aggression, or irritability.