phenobarbital (generic name)

Luminal (brand name)

It may be used to help you sleep or may be used to help control seizures
(fee noe BAR bi tal)
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What is this medicine?

PHENOBARBITAL (fee noe BAR bi tal) is a barbiturate. It may be used to help you sleep or may be used to help control seizures.

What should I tell my health care provider before I take this medicine?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:
  • drug abuse or addiction
  • if you frequently drink alcohol containing drinks
  • kidney disease
  • liver disease
  • lung disease or breathing problems
  • porphyria
  • suicidal thoughts, plans, or attempt; a previous suicide attempt by you or a family member
  • an unusual or allergic reaction to phenobarbital, other barbiturates, other medicines, lactose, foods, dyes, or preservatives
  • pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • breast-feeding

How should I use this medicine?

Take this medicine by mouth with a full glass of water. Follow the directions on the prescription label. Take your medicine at regular intervals. Do not take your medicine more often than directed. Do not stop taking except on your doctor's advice. If you have been taking this medicine regularly and suddenly stop taking it, you may increase the risk of seizures. Your doctor may gradually reduce the dose.

Talk to your pediatrician regarding the use of this medicine in children. Special care may be needed.

Patients over 65 years old may have a stronger reaction and need a smaller dose.

What if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, take only that dose. Do not take double or extra doses.

What may interact with this medicine?

Do not take this medicine with any of the following medications:
  • other barbiturates
  • primidone
  • voriconazole

This medicine may also interact with the following medications:

  • alcohol or medicines that contain alcohol
  • antihistamines
  • medicines for depression, anxiety, or psychotic disturbances
  • medicines for pain including pentazocine, buprenorphine, butorphanol, nalbuphine, tramadol, and propoxyphene
  • medicines for sleep
  • muscle relaxants
  • steroid medicines like prednisone or cortisone

What should I watch for while using this medicine?

Visit your doctor or health care professional for regular checks on your progress.

If you are taking this medicine for seizures, wear a medical identification bracelet or chain to say you have seizures, and carry a card that lists all your medications.

You may get drowsy or dizzy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do anything that needs mental alertness until you know how this medicine affects you. Do not stand or sit up quickly, especially if you are an older patient. This reduces the risk of dizzy or fainting spells. Alcohol may interfere with the effect of this medicine. Avoid alcoholic drinks.

Birth control pills may not work properly while you are taking this medicine. Talk to your doctor about using an extra method of birth control.

The use of this medicine may increase the chance of suicidal thoughts or actions. Pay special attention to how you are responding while on this medicine. Any worsening of mood, or thoughts of suicide or dying should be reported to your health care professional right away.

Women who become pregnant while using this medicine may enroll in the North American Antiepileptic Drug Pregnancy Registry by calling 1-888-233-2334. This registry collects information about the safety of antiepileptic drug use during pregnancy.

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Last Updated: August 24, 2009
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