Phenobarbital

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Treats and prevents generalized and partial seizures.

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Our bottom line

Phenobarbital can be used for generalized and focal seizures, but it can make you feel sleepy.

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Quick facts about phenobarbital
  • Drug class: Neuro/psych
  • Rx status: Prescription only
  • Generic status: Generic only

Upsides

  • Phenobarbital is available as a generic.
  • Phenobarbital is available in both pills and liquid.
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What to expect from phenobarbital, on one page

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Downsides

  • Phenobarbital can be addictive.
  • Your doctor will have to do blood tests regularly to make sure you're getting the right amount of Phenobarbital.
  • Phenobarbital can interact with a lot of other medicines.
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How it works

Phenobarbital is a barbiturate. It binds to certain parts of nerves called GABA receptors that start or spread signals that cause seizures.

Quick facts about phenobarbital
  • Drug class: Neuro/psych
  • Rx status: Prescription only
  • Generic status: Generic only

Used for

  • Generalized and focal seizures
  • Sedation

Dosage forms

  • Pill
  • Liquid
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Prices and coupons

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What to expect when you take Phenobarbital for Generalized and focal seizures

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  • Effectiveness
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  • Possible side effects
  • Sleepiness
  • Addiction
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Difficulty controlling movements
  • Emotional changes
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Side effect rates for Phenobarbital

Risks and Warnings for Phenobarbital

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  • Some people have complained of addiction to Phenobarbital. If you find yourself taking Phenobarbital more than what the doctor tells you to, or you run out before your next refill, talk to your doctor to change your medicine or to learn how to stop taking the medicine safely.

Pharmacist Q&A

Phenobarbital questions for

Frequently Asked Questions

This medication provides sedation.

Who is this drug for?

This medication provides sedation.

Common concerns from people taking Phenobarbital

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Pregnancy

Research studies with real people found harmful effects on unborn babies, but the benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

Tip: Always talk with your doctor before you take any medication while pregnant.
FDA pregnancy category for phenobarbital
DWeigh risks vs. benefits
Interactions
  • Phenobarbital can interact with a lot of other medicines.
Alcohol
  • Don't drink alcohol or take any narcotics while on Phenobarbital, since it can slow your breathing.
Sleep
  • People who have acute or chronic pain and take Phenobarbital have complained of feeling agitated and excited rather than sleepy. Talk to your doctor if this bothers you.
  • Phenobarbital can make you feel sleepy the first few days that you take it. This can be worse if you drink alcohol or take narcotics for pain or other medical issues. Don't drive or do anything requiring concentration until you know how Phenobarbital affects you.