There are some people who may be at an increased risk of Dilantin toxicity. Newborns, elderly people, and people with kidney or liver disease are more likely to experience Dilantin toxicity, as their bodies do not handle Dilantin as well as other people's bodies do. People with low levels of a certain protein (called albumin) in the blood also have a higher risk of toxicity. Dilantin toxicity is more likely to occur when the dose is increased or when other medications are started or stopped (due to Dilantin drug interactions).
In order to guide treatment, Dilantin blood levels are first measured. If there was a recent overdose, the stomach can be pumped. Giving several doses of activated charcoal orally can help absorb Dilantin. Alternatively, the blood can be filtered through activated charcoal, using a process called charcoal hemoperfusion. A special dialysis-like treatment called MARS® (Molecular Adsorbents Recirculation System) can also be helpful, although it is not available in all hospitals. Dilantin should be stopped until the blood levels of Dilantin return to normal, and the Dilantin dose should be adjusted before the medication is restarted.
Toxicity is a risk associated with Dilantin use. It can cause a wide range of symptoms, ranging from mild and bothersome to severe and life-threatening. It is important for people who take Dilantin to be aware of the symptoms of Dilantin toxicity. If you think you may have toxicity symptoms, contact your healthcare provider immediately.