Eslicarbazepine for epilepsy (Zebinix)

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Take eslicarbazepine once each day.

The most common side-effects are feeling sleepy or dizzy.

You need to take eslicarbazepine regularly to prevent seizures from occurring. Do not stop taking it unless your doctor tells you to.

Type of medicineAn antiepileptic medicine
Used forEpilepsy with partial seizures
Also calledZebinix®
Available asTablets

Having epilepsy means that you have had more than one otherwise unexplained fit, or seizure. A seizure is a short episode of symptoms caused by a burst of abnormal electrical activity in your brain. With partial seizures (also called focal seizures), the burst of electrical activity is in one part of your brain and therefore you tend to have localised or 'focal' symptoms. Because different parts of the brain control different functions, your symptoms will depend on which part of your brain is affected. Partial seizures can sometimes develop into seizures which affect all of your brain. These are called secondary generalised seizures. Symptoms that may occur during a seizure can affect your muscles, sensations, behaviour, emotions, consciousness, or a combination of these. The seizures can be prevented in most people by suitable antiepileptic medication. Eslicarbazepine works alongside other antiepileptic medicines to stabilise the electrical activity of your brain. This helps to prevent seizures from occurring.

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking eslicarbazepine it is important that your doctor knows:

  • If you are pregnant, trying for a baby, or breast-feeding.
  • If you have any problems with the way your kidneys work, or with the way your liver works.
  • If you have a heart condition.
  • If you have been told you have low amounts of sodium in your blood.
  • If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
  • Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about eslicarbazepine and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
  • Take eslicarbazepine exactly as your doctor tells you to. Your dose will be printed on the label of the pack to remind you about what the doctor said. It is usual to start treatment on a low dose, and then for the dose to be increased gradually to a regular maintenance dose. Most people will be prescribed 400 mg a day to begin with (taken as half of an 800 mg tablet), and then the dose will be increased after a week or so, to one 800 mg tablet each day.
  • It is important you try to take your doses at the same time of day, each day. Having a routine will help you to remember to take your doses regularly. You can take eslicarbazepine either before or after meals.
  • Swallow the tablet with a drink of water.
  • If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If you do not remember until the following day, skip the forgotten dose. Do not take two doses at the same time to make up for a missed dose.
  • When you first start a new treatment for epilepsy there may be a change in the number or type of seizures you experience. Your doctor will advise you about this.
  • Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress.
  • If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable for you to take with your antiepileptic medication.
  • Different formulations of some antiepileptic medicines can act in a slightly different way in your body. Because of this, your doctor may recommend that you continue to take eslicarbazepine from the same manufacturer each time you obtain a new supply. If so, each time you collect a prescription, check to make sure your supply looks the same and that the name is the same. If you are unsure, or if you have any questions about your prescription, please ask your pharmacist to advise you.
  • While you are being treated for epilepsy there is a small risk that you may develop mood changes, distressing thoughts and feelings about suicide. If this happens, you must tell your doctor about it straightaway.
  • People with epilepsy must stop driving at first. Your doctor will advise you about when it may be possible for you to start driving again. This will usually be after a year free of seizures.
  • Many antiepileptic medicines can harm an unborn child. If you are a woman, make sure you have discussed with your doctor which types of contraception are suitable for you and your partner. If you want to have a family, discuss this with your doctor so that you can be given advice from a specialist before you become pregnant.
  • You need to take eslicarbazepine regularly every day. Do not stop taking it unless your doctor tells you to stop. Stopping treatment suddenly can cause problems and your doctor will probably want you to reduce your dose gradually if this becomes necessary.
  • If you drink alcohol, ask your doctor for advice. Your doctor may advise you not to drink alcohol while you are on this medicine.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with eslicarbazepine. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Very common eslicarbazepine side-effects (these affect more than1 in 10 people)What can I do if I experience this?
Feeling dizzy or sleepyDo not drive or use tools or machines
Common eslicarbazepine side-effects (these affect less than1 in 10 people)What can I do if I experience this?
Feeling tired, blurred or double visionDo not drive or use tools or machines
HeadacheAsk your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller
Feeling or being sickStick to simple meals - avoid rich or spicy food
DiarrhoeaDrink plenty of water to replace the lost fluids
Feeling unsteady, difficulty concentrating, feeling shaky, a spinning sensation (vertigo), skin rash, sleeping problems, lack of appetiteIf any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor for advice

If you develop a severe skin rash or experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the tablets, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for advice as soon as possible.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

  • Manufacturer's PIL, Zebinix┬« 800 mg tablets; Eisai Ltd, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated March 2014.
  • British National Formulary; 68th Edition (Sep 2014) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Adrian Bonsall
Document ID:
13600 (v2)
Last Checked:
08/01/2015
Next Review:
07/01/2018
The Information Standard - certified member

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