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What is phenytoin?

Phenytoin is an anti-epileptic drug. It works by slowing down impulses in the brain that cause seizures. Phenytoin does not treat all types of seizures, and your doctor will determine if it is the right medicine for you.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use this medicine if you are allergic to phenytoin or similar medicines such as ethotoin, fosphenytoin, or mephenytoin, or if you have:

  • a history of liver problems caused by phenytoin;
  • a heart condition called 2nd or 3rd degree "AV block";
  • a history of slow heartbeats that have caused you to faint; or
  • a condition for which you also take delavirdine (Rescriptor).

To make sure phenytoin is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • liver disease;
  • an abnormal heart rhythm found on an EKG (electrocardiograph);
  • diabetes;
  • depression;
  • suicidal thoughts or actions;
  • a vitamin D deficiency or any other condition that causes thinning of the bones;
  • porphyria (a genetic enzyme disorder that causes symptoms affecting the skin or nervous system); or
  • if you drink large amounts of alcohol.

You may have thoughts about suicide while taking this medicine. Your doctor will need to check your progress at regular visits while you are using phenytoin. Your family or other caregivers should also be alert to changes in your mood or


What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention .An overdose of phenytoin can be fatal. Overdose symptoms may include twitching eye movements, slurred speech, loss of balance, tremor, muscle stiffness or weakness, nausea, vomiting, feeling light-headed, fainting, and slow or shallow breathing.