Dilantin (Phenytoin)

Prescription only

Lamictal (Lamotrigine)

Prescription only
1 of 6 alternatives
Prevents seizures.

Dilantin (Phenytoin) is effective at preventing seizures, but has many drug interactions and side effects. If your blood tests show that you have the right amount of Dilantin (Phenytoin) levels, you’ll have a lower chance of getting side effects.

Prevents seizures and stabilizes mood.

Lamictal (Lamotrigine) is most useful for treating severe seizure disorders, and for bipolar disorder with more depression symptoms than manic symptoms. Just be careful to increase your dose slowly to avoid skin rash.

  • Dilantin (Phenytoin) is effective at preventing seizures, and treating seizures in an emergency.
  • Available in an oral suspension and chewable tablets if you have trouble swallowing capsules.
  • Available as a generic.
  • Effective at lowering the frequency of seizures in people with epilepsy or Lennox-Gestaut syndrome. Typically used together with other medications for severe seizure disorders.
  • Works best for partial, tonic-clonic, and absence seizures.
  • A first-line treatment for bipolar disorder. Effective long-term treatment for stabilizing mood. Prevents both depressive and manic episodes, but the effect is greater for preventing depression.
  • Doesn't require routine blood tests.
  • Need to get blood tests regularly to make sure Dilantin (Phenytoin) has safe and effective levels in your body.
  • Can cause changes in your appearance, such as unwanted hair growth, enlargement of the gums, and coarsening of your facial features.
  • If you have kidney problems, your dose and kidney function will have to be checked regularly to make sure Dilantin (Phenytoin) levels don’t get too high.
  • Can make many other medicines less effective, including birth control.
  • Can cause double vision, dizziness, sleepiness, and headache.
  • Has the risk of a rare but life-threatening rash.
  • Can make hormonal birth control less effective.
  • Might be less effective than other medicines for treating manic episodes (acute mania) in people with bipolar disorder.
Used for
Dosage forms
  • Extended release
  • Chewable tablet
  • Liquid
  • Pill
  • Extended release
  • Chewable tablet
  • Dissolving tablet
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Side effects
The Dilantin (Phenytoin) FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
10possible side effects
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Diplopia
  • Ataxia
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Somnolence
  • Rhinitis
  • Pharyngitis
  • Rash
See more detailed side effects
Risks and warnings
  • Skin reactions

    People of Asian ancestry

  • Serious liver damage

    Starting Dilantin (Phenytoin) within the first two months

  • Cardiovascular risk with fast IV infusions

    Infusing Dilantin (Phenytoin) too fast

  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior

    History of depression

  • Bone fractures due to weakened bones

    History of osteoporosis

    ...and 1 more risk factors

  • Withdrawal seizures

    Stopping Dilantin (Phenytoin) suddenly

See more detailed risks and warnings
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior

    History of depression

  • Serious skin rash

    People also taking Depakote

    ...and 2 more risk factors

  • Interactions with birth control pills

    Taking birth control pills

  • Withdrawal seizures

    Stopping Lamictal (Lamotrigine) suddenly

See more detailed risks and warnings