Ethosuximide

Generic Name: ethosuximide (ETH-oh-SUX-i-mide)
Brand Name: Zarontin

Ethosuximide is used for:

Controlling a certain type of seizures (absence or petit mal seizures). It may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor.

Ethosuximide is an anticonvulsant. It acts in the brain to reduce the number of seizures.

Do NOT use ethosuximide if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in ethosuximide or similar medicines (eg, methsuximide)

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

Slideshow: Flashback: FDA Drug Approvals 2013

Before using ethosuximide:

Some medical conditions may interact with ethosuximide. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are able to become pregnant
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you have liver or kidney disease, lupus, or the blood disorder porphyria
  • if you have a history of mood or mental problems (eg, depression) or suicidal thoughts or attempts

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with ethosuximide. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Hydantoins (eg, phenytoin) because the risk of their side effects may be increased by ethosuximide
  • Valproic acid because it may affect the amount of ethosuximide in your blood

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if ethosuximide may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use ethosuximide:

Use ethosuximide as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Ethosuximide comes with an extra patient information sheet called a Medication Guide. Read it carefully. Read it again each time you get ethosuximide refilled.
  • Take ethosuximide by mouth with or without food.
  • Do not change the dose of ethosuximide or stop this or other medicines without checking with your doctor. If this needs to be done, it should be done slowly as directed by your doctor. Suddenly stopping ethosuximide may increase the risk of seizures.
  • Taking ethosuximide at the same time each day will help you remember to take it. Take ethosuximide on a regular schedule to get the most benefit from it.
  • Continue to take ethosuximide even if you feel well. Do not miss any doses.
  • If you miss a dose of ethosuximide, take it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for you next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take 2 doses at once.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use ethosuximide.

Important safety information:

  • Ethosuximide may cause drowsiness or dizziness. These effects may be worse if you take it with alcohol or certain medicines. Use ethosuximide with caution. Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to it.
  • Do NOT take more than the recommended dose or change your dose without checking with your doctor.
  • Check with your doctor before you drink alcohol or use medicines that may cause drowsiness (eg, sleep aids, muscle relaxers) while you are using ethosuximide; it may add to their effects. Ask your pharmacist if you have questions about which medicines may cause drowsiness.
  • Ethosuximide may cause swelling and tenderness of your gums. Proper dental care is important while you are taking ethosuximide. Brush and floss your teeth on a regular schedule and have regular dental checkups.
  • Patients who take ethosuximide may be at increased risk for suicidal thoughts or actions. The risk may be greater in patients who have had suicidal thoughts or actions in the past. Watch patients who take ethosuximide closely. Contact the doctor at once if new, worsened, or sudden symptoms such as depressed mood; anxious, restless, or irritable behavior; panic attacks; or any unusual change in mood or behavior occur. Contact the doctor right away if any signs of suicidal thoughts or actions occur.
  • Serious and sometimes fatal rashes have been reported with the use of ethosuximide. Most of these developed within the first 28 days after starting treatment. However, they may occur at any time during treatment. Contact your doctor at once if you develop rash symptoms, including red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin.
  • Lab tests, including complete blood cell counts and liver and kidney function tests, may be performed while you use ethosuximide. These tests may be used to monitor your condition or check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
  • Ethosuximide should be used with extreme caution in CHILDREN younger than 3 years old; safety and effectiveness in these children have not been confirmed.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: If you become pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using ethosuximide while you are pregnant. Ethosuximide is found in breast milk. If you are or will be breast-feeding while you use ethosuximide, check with your doctor. Discuss any possible risks to your baby.

Possible side effects of ethosuximide:

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Diarrhea; dizziness or light-headedness; drowsiness; headache; hiccups; loss of appetite; mild stomach pain; nausea; stomach upset or cramps; tiredness; vomiting; weight loss.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue; sores in your mouth); decreased coordination; decreased urination; hallucinations; lupus symptoms (eg, butterfly-shaped rash on the face, chest pain, joint pain or swelling, muscle pain); new or worsening mood, mental, or behavior changes (eg, depression); new or worsening seizures; nightmares; red or purple spots on your body; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin; signs of infection (eg, fever, chills, sore throat); suicidal thoughts or attempts; swollen lymph nodes; symptoms of liver problems (eg, dark urine, pale stools, persistent loss of appetite, stomach pain, yellowing of the skin or eyes); trouble concentrating; trouble sleeping; unsteadiness when walking; unusual bruising or bleeding (eg, bleeding gums, nosebleeds); unusual tiredness or weakness.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately. Symptoms may include coma; nausea; severe drowsiness; slow or shallow breathing; vomiting.

Proper storage of ethosuximide:

Store ethosuximide at room temperature, between 59 and 86 degrees F (15 and 30 degrees C). Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Keep ethosuximide out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about ethosuximide, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Ethosuximide is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take ethosuximide or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about ethosuximide. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to ethosuximide. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using ethosuximide.

Issue Date: July 2, 2014
Database Edition 14.3.1.001
Copyright © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

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