US Government Agency Prove That Epilepsy Drug Treatment Can Cause Memory Loss Side Effects


Phenytoin is a prescription drug. It comes in three oral forms: extended-release capsule, chewable tablet, and suspension. It also comes as an injectable medication that’s given by a healthcare provider.Phenytoin oral capsule is available as the brand-name drugs Phenytek and Dilantin. It’s also available as a generic drug. Generic drugs usually cost less than the brand-name version. In some cases, they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name drug.Phenytoin may be taken as part of a combination therapy with other seizure medications.

Phenytoin side effects

Phenytoin oral capsule may cause drowsiness. This can slow your thinking and motor skills. You shouldn’t drive, use machinery, or do other tasks that require alertness until you know how this drug affects you.

Phenytoin can also cause other side effects.

More common side effects

The more common side effects that can occur with phenytoin include:

  • problems with walking and coordination
  • slurred speech
  • confusion
  • dizziness
  • trouble sleeping
  • nervousness
  • tremors
  • headache
  • nausea or vomiting
  • constipation
  • skin rash

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious side effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • Serious skin rashes. These rashes typically occur during the first 28 days of treatment with this drug, but can occur later. They can include toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) or Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS), which can be fatal. Your doctor will have you stop taking phenytoin at the first sign of rash, unless the rash isn’t drug-related. Symptoms of these rashes can include:
    • itchiness
    • skin redness
    • blistering or peeling of your skin
    • hives
    • painful sores in your mouth or around your eyes
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors. Symptoms can include:
    • thoughts about suicide or dying
    • attempts to commit suicide
    • new or worsened depression or anxiety
    • feeling agitated or restless
    • panic attacks
    • trouble sleeping
    • new or worsened irritability
    • acting aggressive, angry, or violent
    • acting on dangerous impulses
    • extreme increases in activity and talking
    • other unusual changes in mood or behavior
  • Multiorgan hypersensitivity. Symptoms can include:
    • skin rash
    • fever, swollen glands (lymph nodes), or sore throat that doesn’t go away or comes and goes
    • yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes
    • increased bruising or bleeding
    • severe tiredness or weakness
    • severe muscle pain
    • frequent infections or an infection that doesn’t go away
    • loss of appetite
    • nausea or vomiting
    • decrease in urine output
  • Allergic reactions. Symptoms can include:
    • rash
    • hives
    • swelling of your lips, tongue, face
    • trouble breathing
  • Low vitamin D levels. Symptoms can include:
    • low levels of calcium and phosphate
    • softening of your bones (can lead to broken bones, osteopenia, or osteoporosis)
  • Severe confusion. If your blood levels of phenytoin are above the recommended range, you may have severe confusion known as delirium, psychosis, or encephalopathy (brain disorder). Your doctor may lower your dosage or stop your treatment with phenytoin.
  • Overgrowth of your gums. Brushing and flossing your teeth and seeing a dentist regularly can help prevent this from happening.
  • Lowered blood cell counts. Symptoms can include:
    • increased bruising or bleeding
    • severe tiredness
    • frequent infections, or an infection that doesn’t go away
  • Worsening of porphyria, an inherited blood disorder


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