How Does Carbamazepine Work?

Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes recurring, brief changes in how the brain's electrical system works. These changes in brain activity can lead to a seizure (see Epilepsy Symptoms). It is not known exactly how carbamazepine works to prevent partial seizures in people with epilepsy. It may work by blocking sodium channels in the brain. By blocking sodium channels, the medication may decrease the activity of nerve cells, preventing them from firing abnormally. Carbamazepine may also prevent the abnormal brain signals from spreading to other parts of the brain.
It is thought that carbamazepine works to treat trigeminal neuralgia by blocking the nerve signals that cause pain and other unpleasant sensations.
It is not known exactly how Equetro works for bipolar disorder treatment. It affects several different brain chemicals -- though it is not known if this is how the medication works to treat bipolar disorder.

When and How to Take It

Some general considerations for when and how to take carbamazepine include the following:
  • Carbamazepine comes in several different forms, including tablets, chewable tablets, extended-release tablets, extended-release capsules, and suspension (liquid). It is taken by mouth, usually two to four times daily, depending on the particular product.
  • The medication can be taken with or without food. If carbamazepine upsets your stomach, try taking it with food.
  • Make sure to shake the suspension form thoroughly just before each dose. Do not mix it with food or other liquids, including other medications.
  • Do not crush, chew, or break the long-acting form of carbamazepine. Inspect each tablet to make sure it is not chipped or damaged. Make sure each tablet has a tiny hole (this is how the medication is released from the tablet). You may notice the shell in your stool; this is normal and should not cause any problems.
  • Do not crush or chew the extended-release capsules, as this could cause too much medication to be released too quickly. If necessary, the capsules can be opened and the contents sprinkled over a spoonful of applesauce or other soft food. The food and medication should immediately be swallowed whole, without chewing.
  • Carbamazepine should be taken at the same times each day to maintain an even level in your blood.
  • For the medication to work properly, it must be taken as prescribed. Carbamazepine will not work if you stop taking it.
  • Do not stop taking this medication without first discussing it with your healthcare provider (see Carbamazepine Withdrawal).
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Carbamazepine Medication Information

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