Tegretol Side Effects

Although most people taking Tegretol do not experience any problems, side effects can occur. A few of the more common side effects include dizziness, drowsiness, and nausea. Other side effects of Tegretol, while less common, are more serious and should be reported to a healthcare provider immediately. Among these are hallucinations, unusual bleeding or bruising, and difficulty passing urine.

An Introduction to Tegretol Side Effects

As with any medicine, side effects are possible with Tegretol® (carbamazepine). However, not everyone who takes the medication will experience side effects. In fact, most people tolerate it quite well. If side effects do occur, in most cases, they are minor and either require no treatment or are easily treated by you or your healthcare provider.
 
(This article covers many, but not all, of the possible side effects with Tegretol. Your healthcare provider can discuss a more complete list of Tegretol side effects with you.)
 

Common Side Effects With Tegretol

Tegretol has been studied thoroughly in clinical trials. In these studies, the side effects that occur in a group of people taking the drug are documented and then compared to the side effects that occur in another group of people not taking the medicine. As a result, it is possible to see what side effects occur, how often they appear, and how they compare to the group not taking the medicine.
 
In these studies, the most common Tegretol side effects included:
 
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Unsteadiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting.
     

Serious Side Effects

Some side effects of Tegretol, while occurring infrequently, are potentially serious and should be reported immediately to your healthcare provider. These include but are not limited to:
 
  • Worsening of seizures  
  • Hallucinations  
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors  
  • Anemia or other blood disorders  
  • Unusual bruising or bleeding  
  • Increased infections or infections that do not go away  
  • Water retention, swelling, or difficulty breathing, which can be signs of congestive heart failure (CHF)  
  • High blood pressure (hypertension) or low blood pressure (hypotension)  
  • An irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia)  
  • Yellowing of the whites of the eyes or skin (jaundice), which may be a sign of liver damage, including liver failure or hepatitis  
  • Difficulty passing urine or a sudden, unexplained decrease in urine production (which can be a sign of kidney damage)  
  • Low sodium levels in the blood (hyponatremia), which may cause symptoms that include:
 
    • Loss of appetite
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Irritability
    • Excessive tiredness
    • Confusion
    • Hallucinations
    • Muscle weakness
    • Muscle spasms or cramps
 
  • Signs of an allergic reaction, including:
 
    • An unexplained rash
    • Hives
    • Itching
    • Unexplained swelling

 

 

Rarely, Tegretol can cause very dangerous skin reactions known as Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) or toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN). These problems start out as skin rashes but can progress to permanent disfigurement or even loss of life. Not every skin rash in people taking Tegretol will be related to SJS or TEN. However, because of the seriousness of such problems, it is recommended that people stop taking Tegretol immediately at the first sign of a rash, unless it is very clear that the rash is not related to Tegretol. In most (but not all) cases, SJS and TEN reactions occur within the first month of starting Tegretol.
 
Interestingly, SJS and TEN reactions to Tegretol are much more common in people of Asian descent, who are more likely to have a specific gene (known as HLA-B*1502) that appears to increase the risk of such problems. If you are of Asian descent, your healthcare provider may choose to test for the gene before recommending Tegretol for you.
 
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