Dilantin Warnings and Precautions

Prior to treatment with Dilantin, warnings and precautions for the medicine should be reviewed to help ensure safe treatment. It is important to know that Dilantin may potentially cause very serious skin rashes, bone weakness, increased blood sugar, and gum problems in some people. Also, the medication is not suitable for everyone; you should not take Dilantin if you are allergic to any components used to make the drug.

Dilantin: What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?

You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking Dilantin® (phenytoin) if you have:
  • Porphyria
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Diabetes
  • Liver disease, such as liver failure or cirrhosis
  • 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 other medicines you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Specific Precautions and Warnings With Dilantin

Some warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking Dilantin include:
  • Seizure medications, including Dilantin, may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior. If you feel depressed or have any suicidal thoughts, let your healthcare provider know right away (see Seizure Medications and Suicide for more information).


  • There have been reports of lymph node problems in people taking Dilantin. It is not known if Dilantin is the cause of these problems. These problems, which can include swollen and tender lymph nodes, may be a sign of serious problems (such as certain cancers).
  • Alcohol can affect the way your body handles Dilantin. Talk with your healthcare provider about your alcohol consumption. It is important to keep your alcohol intake consistent (see Dilantin and Alcohol).
  • Dilantin may make porphyria worse. Porphyria is a group of conditions involving problems with certain enzymes in the body.
  • The liver helps remove Dilantin from the body. If you have liver disease, you may need a lower Dilantin dosage.
  • Because Dilantin can cause very serious skin rashes (which are sometimes life-threatening), tell your healthcare provider right away if you notice a rash. Most likely, you will need to stop Dilantin either temporarily or permanently.
  • Dilantin may increase your blood sugar. This is especially important for people with diabetes.
  • Dilantin may cause bone weakness, because it affects the way your body deals with vitamin D (which is important for strong bones).
  • As with all seizure medications, Dilantin should not be stopped suddenly (see Dilantin Withdrawal).
  • Strange behavior or thinking may be a sign of too much Dilantin in your blood. Let your healthcare provider know if you notice any unusual behavior or thinking.
  • Because Dilantin can cause gum problems, good dental care is very important while you are taking Dilantin.
  • Dilantin can interact with certain other medications (see Dilantin Drug Interactions).
  • Dilantin is considered a pregnancy Category D medication. This means that it is probably not safe for pregnant women. Talk with your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of taking the drug during pregnancy (see Dilantin and Pregnancy).
  • Dilantin 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 Dilantin and Breastfeeding).
Know the Signs - Concussion Safety

Dilantin Drug Information

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