What Is Primidone Used For?

Grand Mal Seizures
Grand mal seizures are also known as generalized tonic-clonic seizures. Most seizures depicted on television or movies are grand mal seizures. During a grand mal seizure, a person loses consciousness and alternates between periods of stiffness and periods of shaking. People usually fall down and often lose bladder and bowel control during a grand mal seizure.
Primidone is approved to treat grand mal seizures. It may be effective even when many other seizure medications have failed.
Partial Seizures
Partial seizures (also known as focal seizures) occur in just one part of the brain (as apposed to generalized seizures, which affect both sides of the brain). About 60 percent of people with epilepsy have partial seizures. Two types of partial seizures are:
  • Simple partial seizures, in which a person remain conscious, but experiences unusual feelings or sensations that can take many forms.
  • Complex partial seizures (also known as psychomotor seizures), in which a person has a change or loss of consciousness. People having a complex partial seizure may display strange, repetitious behaviors such as blinks, twitches, mouth movements, or even walking in a circle.
Primidone is approved to treat both types of partial seizures.

How Does Primidone Work?

In the body, primidone is converted into various other chemicals, including phenobarbital. Phenobarbital is a type of barbiturate that can help control seizures by acting as an anticonvulsant. Unlike primidone, phenobarbital is considered a controlled substance. This means that there are special rules for prescribing and dispensing phenobarbital (which do not apply to primidone). This is one of the main advantages of primidone. Some people consider primidone to be a barbiturate, while others do not.
During a seizure, brain cells (neurons) may fire as many as 500 times per second, much faster than the normal rate of about 80 times per second. Primidone (and phenobarbital) works by decreasing the excitability of the brain cells. This helps to prevent abnormal electrical activity from starting and keeps such activity from spreading to other parts of the brain.
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Primidone Drug Information

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