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Phenytoin is available in liquid, capsule, and chewable tablet forms. It is also available as an injection (shot).
Phenytoin is one of the drugs of choice for:
Phenytoin should not be used to treat absence seizures or myoclonic seizures.
Phenytoin helps to control partial seizures and generalized tonic-clonic seizures.1
Common side effects of phenytoin include:
High levels of phenytoin in the body may also cause:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning on antiepileptic medicines and the risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts. The FDA does not recommend that people stop using these medicines. Instead, people who take antiepileptic medicine should be watched closely for warning signs of suicide. People who take antiepileptic medicine and who are worried about this side effect should talk to a doctor.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
It may take time and careful, controlled adjustments by you and your doctor to find the combination, schedule, and dosing of medicine to best manage your epilepsy. The goal is to prevent seizures while causing as few side effects as possible. After you and your doctor figure out the medicine program that works best for you, make sure to follow your program exactly as prescribed.
Last Revised: August 26, 2011
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