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Valproic acid or sodium valproate is an anticonvulsant and mood stabilizer that acts by increasing the levels of GABA in the brain, a type of neurotransmitter responsible for decreasing the activity of neurons, and which when its levels are low can cause seizures, bipolar disorder or migraine. Thus, valproic acid helps restore the balance of neurons, which is necessary for the proper functioning of the brain.
This medicine can be found in pharmacies and drugstores in the form of tablets, capsules or syrup, with the commercial name Depakene, in the generic form with the name valproic acid or with similar names Torval, Vodsso or Epilenil, for example, and is sold only by prescription and withholding of prescription by the pharmacy.
Valproic acid is sold in the form of 250 mg capsules, 300 or 500 mg tablets or as a 50 mg/mL syrup, administered orally. In addition, it can be used in the form of injection applied directly into the vein, made in the hospital by a nurse, according to the medical indication.
What is it for
Valproic acid is indicated for the treatment of seizures, epilepsy, absence seizures and bipolar disorder. In addition, this remedy can be indicated for the prevention of migraine attacks.
How to take it
Valproic acid should be taken orally, with a glass of water, at the dose, at the times and for the period of time established by the doctor. However, if you forget to take a dose on time, take it as soon as you remember, but skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. Do not double the dose to make up for the missed dose.
The way to use valproic acid, for adults and children over 10 years old, varies according to the indication and includes:
- Epilepsy, seizures or absence seizures: The starting dose is 10-15 mg per kg of body weight per day. This dose may be increased to a maximum of 60 mg per kg of body weight per day, according to medical advice;
- Bipolar disorder: the starting dose is 750 mg per day, divided into 2 doses, and can be increased up to 3000 mg per day or 60 mg per kg of weight per day, according to medical advice;
- Migraine: the starting dose is 250 mg twice a day and can be increased to a maximum of 500 mg twice a day.
Valproic acid tablets and capsules can be taken after a meal to avoid stomach irritation, and should be taken whole, without breaking or chewing, as they can cause irritation to the mouth or throat.The syrup has a special formula that does not cause irritation in the mouth or throat and must be taken using the dispenser provided in the package.
During the use of valproic acid, the person must undergo tests that measure the amount of platelets in the blood, as this drug can cause a decrease in blood clotting, increasing the risk of bleeding.
Possible side effects
Some of the most common side effects that may occur during treatment with valproic acid are nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, drowsiness, feeling weak or dizzy, headache, tremor, difficulty with motor coordination, blurred or blurry vision, hair loss, weight gain, or drug-induced hepatitis.
Valproic acid can cause severe allergic reactions that require immediate medical attention. Therefore, you should stop treatment and seek the nearest emergency department if you experience symptoms such as difficulty breathing, cough, chest pain, feeling of a closed throat, swelling in the mouth, tongue or face, or hives.Learn more about allergic reaction symptoms.
Although infrequent, valproic acid can also have as a side effect alterations in the reproductive system, such as changes in the menstrual cycle, which can lead to amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea or menorrhagia, galactorrhea, breast enlargement in men, vaginal bleeding, dysfunction erectile dysfunction and male infertility, which may involve absence or decrease in sperm count and lower motility, for example.
Immediate medical attention should also be sought if valproic acid is taken in larger than recommended doses and overdose symptoms such as fever, swollen glands with swollen glands, muscle pain, excessive weakness, bleeding, yellow skin or eyes, loss of appetite, stomach pain that radiates to the back, or dark urine.
In addition, the doctor should be reported if the person has mood or behavior changes, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, difficulty sleeping or impulsiveness, irritation, agitation, aggression, or thoughts of suicide.
Who should not take it
Valproic acid should not be used by people who are allergic to valproic acid and the syrup in this medicine should not be used by diabetics as it contains sorbitol, a type of sugar that can increase blood glucose.
Also, valproic acid should not be used by:
- Children under 10 years old;
- Breastfeeding women;
- People who take anticoagulants or anti-inflammatories;
- People with liver problems such as hepatitis or liver failure;
- People with genetic disorders such as urea cycle disorder, porphyria or Alpers-Huttenlocher syndrome.
This medicine should not be used during pregnancy, unless the woman was already using valproic acid before becoming pregnant, and the doctor should always assess the risks and benefits of the treatment, as it can harm the fetus.In addition, valproic acid can cut the effect of oral contraceptive pills, and it is recommended to use another method to prevent pregnancy, such as a condom or diaphragm, for example, during treatment with this medicine.
Other drugs can interfere with the action of valproic acid by increasing or decreasing its effect, such as phenobarbital, haloperidol, loxapine, maprotiline or monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil) or tranylcypromine (Parnate), for example.
In addition, vitamins, dietary supplements and herbal products can also interfere with the action of valproic acid. Therefore, it is important to inform the doctor and pharmacist of all medications that are used to avoid decreasing or increasing the effect of valproic acid, and also to avoid using any other medication on your own.