Generic Name: Valproic Acid Brand Name(s): Generics only. No brands available.

Uses

What is valproic acid used for?

Valproic acid is used to treat various types of seizure disorders, manic episodes related to bipolar disorder, or prevent migraine headaches. Sometimes, valproic acid is used together with other seizure medications.

Valproic acid may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

How should I take valproic acid?

  • Drink plenty of water while you are taking this medication. Your dose may need to be changed if you do not get enough fluids each day.
  • Take with food if this medicine upsets your stomach.
  • Measure liquid medicine with a special dose-measuring spoon or medicine cup. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.
  • Do not crush, chew, break, or open a delayed-release capsule. Swallow it whole.
  • While using valproic acid, you may need frequent blood tests.
  • Wear a medical alert tag or carry an ID card stating that you take valproic acid. Any doctor, dentist, or emergency medical care provider who treats you should know that you are taking a seizure medication.
  • Do not stop using valproic acid suddenly, even if you feel fine. Stopping suddenly may cause a serious, life-threatening type of seizure. Follow your doctor’s instructions about tapering your dose.

How do I store valproic acid?

Valproic acid is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store valproic acid in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of valproic acid that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush valproic acid down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

 

Precautions & warnings

What should I know before using valproic acid?

Before using valproic acid, you should know:

  • Do not use valproic acid to prevent migraine headaches if you are pregnant.
  • If you take valproic acid for seizures or manic episodes, do not start or stop taking the medicine during pregnancy without your doctor’s advice.
  • You should not use valproic acid if you have liver disease, a urea cycle disorder, or a genetic disorder such as Alpers’ disease or Alpers-Huttenlocher syndrome (especially in a child younger than 2 years old).
  • Valproic acid can cause liver failure that may be fatal, especially in children under age 2 and in people with liver problems caused by a genetic mitochondrial disorder.
  • Call your doctor at once if the person taking this medicine has signs of liver or pancreas problems, such as loss of appetite, upper stomach pain (that may spread to your back), ongoing nausea or vomiting, dark urine, swelling in the face, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Is it safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding?

This medicine can harm an unborn baby or cause birth defects, and may affect cognitive ability (reasoning, intelligence, problem-solving) later in the child’s life. However, having a seizure during pregnancy could harm both the mother and the baby. Do not start or stop taking valproic acid during pregnancy without your doctor’s advice.

Use effective birth control while using valproic acid, and tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant.

Seizure control is very important during pregnancy. The benefit of preventing seizures may outweigh any risks posed by taking valproic acid. There may be other seizure medications that can be more safely used during pregnancy. Follow your doctor’s instructions about taking valproic acid while you are pregnant.

Valproic acid can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while using this medicine.

 

Side effects

What side effects can occur from valproic acid?

Common side effects may include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Indigestion
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Flu symptoms
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Nervousness
  • Depression
  • Sleep problems (insomnia)
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Memory problems
  • Rash
  • Hair loss
  • Bruising
  • Weakness
  • Tremors
  • Problems with balance or walking
  • Swelling in your hands or fee
  • Vision problems
  • Ringing in your ears
  • Changes in appetite
  • Weight gain

Call your doctor at once if you have any of these other side effects:

  • Confusion
  • Tiredness
  • Cold feeling
  • Vomiting
  • Change in your mental state
  • Easy bruising
  • Unusual bleeding (nose, mouth, or gums)
  • Purple or red pinpoint spots under your skin
  • Severe drowsiness
  • Worsening seizures
  • Signs of inflammation in your body (swollen glands, flu symptoms, severe tingling or numbness, muscle weakness, chest pain, new or worsening cough with fever, trouble breathing)
  • Severe skin reaction (fever, sore throat, swelling in your face or tongue, burning in your eyes, skin pain, followed by a red or purple skin rash that spreads and causes blistering and peeling)
  • Signs of liver or pancreas problems (loss of appetite, upper stomach pain, ongoing nausea or vomiting, dark urine, swelling in the face, or jaundice)

Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor, such as mood or behavior changes, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, or if you feel impulsive, irritable, agitated, hostile, aggressive, restless, hyperactive (mentally or physically), or have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself.

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction (hives; fever, swollen glands, mouth sores, difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat).

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

Interactions

What drugs may interact with valproic acid?

Valproic acid may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

Does food or alcohol interact with valproic acid?

Valproic acid may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with valproic acid?

To make sure valproic acid is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • Liver problems caused by a genetic mitochondrial disorder
  • A history of depression, mental illness, or suicidal thoughts or actions
  • A family history of a urea cycle disorder or infant deaths with unknown cause
  • HIV or CMV (cytomegalovirus) infection

Your doctor will need to check your progress at regular visits while you are using this medicine. Your family or other caregivers should also be alert to changes in your mood or symptoms.

Dosage

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. You should ALWAYS consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using valproic acid.

What is the dose of valproic acid for an adult?

Usual adult dose for epilepsy:

Complex partial seizures:

  • Initial dose: 10 to 15 mg/kg orally or intravenously per day as an IV infusion in divided doses, increased by 5 to 10 mg/kg per week if necessary according to clinical response.
  • Maintenance dose: 10 to 60 mg/kg per day in divided doses.
  • Maximum dose: 60 mg/kg per day.

Simple and complex absence seizures:

  • Initial dose: 15 mg/kg orally or intravenously per day as an IV infusion in divided doses, increased at one week intervals by 5 to 10 mg/kg/day according to seizure control and tolerability.
  • Maximum dose: 60 mg/kg per day.

Usual adult dose for mania:

Delayed-release capsules:

  • Initial dose: 750 mg orally per day in divided doses.
  • Maximum dose: 60 mg/kg orally per day.
  • Duration: safety and efficacy beyond 3 weeks has not been established.

Usual adult dose for migraine prophylaxis:

Delayed release oral capsules:

Initial dose: 250 mg orally twice a day.

What is the dose of valproic acid for a child?

Usual pediatric dose for epilepsy (10 years of age or older)

Complex partial seizures:

  • Initial dose: 10 to 15 mg/kg orally or intravenously per day as an IV infusion in divided doses, increased by 5 to 10 mg/kg per week if necessary according to clinical response.
  • Maintenance dose: 10 to 60 mg/kg per day in divided doses.
  • Maximum dose: 60 mg/kg per day.

Simple and complex absence seizures:

  • Initial dose: 15 mg/kg orally or intravenously per day as an IV infusion in divided doses, increased at one week intervals by 5 to 10 mg/kg/day according to seizure control and tolerability.
  • Maximum dose: 60 mg/kg per day.

How is valproic acid available?

Valproic acid is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

  • Valproic acid tablet 250mg

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.                         

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of valproic acid, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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