Ethosuximide

Ethosuximide is used for the treatment of absence (petit mal) seizures. Never stop taking Zarontin without talking to your doctor first. Laboratory monitoring may be necessary.

Ethosuximide Overview

Reviewed: September 14, 2012
Updated: 

Ethosuximide is a prescription medication used to treat absence seizures, also known as petit mal seizures. Ethosuximide belongs to a group of drugs called anticonvulsants which work by reducing abnormal activity in the brain.

This medication comes in capsule and liquid (syrup) forms. Ethosuximide is usually taken once or twice daily, with or without food.

Common side effects of ethosuximide include nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, and diarrhea. 

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Ethosuximide Cautionary Labels

precautionsprecautionsprecautionsprecautions

Uses of Ethosuximide

Ethosuximide is a prescription medicine used to treat absence (petit mal) seizures.

This medication may be prescribed for other uses. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

 

Ethosuximide Brand Names

Ethosuximide may be found in some form under the following brand names:

Ethosuximide Drug Class

Ethosuximide is part of the drug class:

Side Effects of Ethosuximide

  • See "Drug Precautions" for serious side effects.

Ethosuximide may cause other serious side effects, including:

  • Serious allergic reactions. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these symptoms:
    • skin rash
    • hives
    • sores in your mouth
    • blistering or peeling skin
    • Changes in thinking, mood, or behavior. Some patients may get abnormally suspicious thoughts, hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there), or delusions (false thoughts or beliefs).
    • Grand mal seizures can happen more often or become worse

Call your healthcare provider right away, if you have any of the symptoms listed above.

The most common side effects of ethosuximide include:

  • nausea or vomiting
  • indigestion, stomach pain
  • diarrhea
  • weight loss
  • loss of appetite
  • hiccups
  • fatigue
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • unsteadiness when walking
  • headache
  • loss of concentration

Tell your healthcare provider about any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.

These are not all the possible side effects with ethosuximide. For more information, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Ethosuximide Interactions

Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Taking ethosuximide with certain other medicines can cause side effects or affect how well they work. Do not start or stop other medicines without talking to your healthcare provider.

Know the medicines you take. Keep a list of them with you to show your healthcare provider and pharmacist when you get a new medicine.

Ethosuximide Precautions

Do not stop taking ethosuximide without first talking to your healthcare provider. Stopping ethosuximide suddenly can cause serious problems.

Do not take ethosuximide if you are allergic to succinimides (methsuximide or ethosuximide), or any of the ingredients in ethosuximide

Ethosuximide can cause serious side effects, including:

  1. Rare but serious blood problems that may be life-threatening. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have:
    • fever, swollen glands, or sore throat that come and go or do not go away
    • frequent infections or an infection that does not go away
    • easy bruising
    • red or purple spots on your body
    • bleeding gums or nose bleeds
    • severe fatigue or weakness
  2. Systematic Lupus Erythematosus. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these symptoms:
    • joint pain and swelling
    • muscle pain
    • fatigue
    • low-grade fever
    • pain in the chest that is worse with breathing
    • unexplained skin rash

  3. Like other antiepileptic drugs, ethosuximide may cause suicidal thoughts or actions in a very small number of people, about 1 in 500. Call a healthcare provider right away if you have any of these symptoms, especially if they are new, worse, or worry you:

 

  • thoughts about suicide or dying
  • attempts to commit suicide
  • new or worse depression
  • new or worse anxiety
  • feeling agitated or restless
  • panic attacks
  • trouble sleeping (insomnia)
  • new or worse irritability
  • acting aggressive, being angry, or violent
  • acting on dangerous impulses
  • an extreme increase activity and talking (mania)
  • other unusual changes in behavior or mood

Watch for early symptoms of suicidal thoughts and actions:

  • Pay attention to any changes, especially sudden changes, in mood, behaviors, thoughts, or feelings.
  • Keep all follow-up visits with your healthcare provider as scheduled.

 

Call your healthcare provider between visits as needed, especially if you are worried about symptoms.

Do not stop ethosuximide without first talking to a healthcare provider.

  • Stopping ethosuximide suddenly can cause serious problems.
  • Stopping a seizure medicine suddenly in a patient who has epilepsy can cause seizures that will not stop (status epilepticus).

 

Suicidal thoughts or actions can be caused by things other than medicines. If you have suicidal thoughts or actions, your healthcare provider may check for other causes.

Do not drink alcohol or take other medicines that make you sleepy or dizzy while taking ethosuximide without first talking to your healthcare provider. Ethosuximide taken with alcohol or medicines that cause sleepiness or dizziness may make your sleepiness or dizziness worse.

  • Do not drive, operate heavy machinery, or do other dangerous activities until you know how ethosuximide affects you. Ethosuximide can slow your thinking and motor skills.

Ethosuximide Food Interactions

Medications can interact with certain foods. In some cases, this may be harmful and your doctor may advise you to avoid certain foods. In the case of ethosuximide, there are no specific foods that you must exclude from your diet when receiving this medication.

Inform MD

Before you take ethosuximide, tell your healthcare provider if you:

  • have or had liver problems
  • have or have had depression, mood problems or suicidal thoughts or behavior
  • have any other medical conditions
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if ethosuximide can harm your unborn baby. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you become pregnant while taking ethosuximide. You and your healthcare provider should decide if you should take ethosuximide while you are pregnant.
    • If you become pregnant while taking ethosuximide, talk to your healthcare provider about registering with the North American Antiepileptic Drug (NAAED) Pregnancy Registry. The purpose of this registry is to collect information about the safety of antiepileptic drugs during pregnancy. You can enroll in this registry by calling 1-888-233-2334.
  • are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if ethosuximide can pass into breast milk. You and your healthcare provider should decide how you will feed your baby while you take ethosuximide.

Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Ethosuximide and Pregnancy

Tell your healthcare provider if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if ethosuximide can harm your unborn baby. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you become pregnant while taking ethosuximide. You and your healthcare provider should decide if you should take ethosuximide while you are pregnant.

  • If you become pregnant while taking ethosuximide, talk to your healthcare provider about registering with the North American Antiepileptic Drug (NAAED) Pregnancy Registry. The purpose of this registry is to collect information about the safety of antiepileptic drugs during pregnancy. You can enroll in this registry by calling 1-888-233-2334.

Ethosuximide and Lactation

Tell your healthcare provider if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if ethosuximide can pass into breast milk. You and your healthcare provider should decide how you will feed your baby while you take ethosuximide.

Ethosuximide Usage

  • Take ethosuximide exactly as prescribed. Your healthcare provider will tell you how much ethosuximide to take.
  • Your healthcare provider may change your dose. Do not change your dose of ethosuximide without talking to your healthcare provider.
  • If you take too much ethosuximide, call your healthcare provider or your local Poison Control Center right away.
  • Do not drink alcohol or take other medicines that make you sleepy or dizzy while taking ethosuximide without first talking to your healthcare provider. Ethosuximide taken with alcohol or medicines that cause sleepiness or dizziness may make your sleepiness or dizziness worse.
    • Do not drive, operate heavy machinery, or do other dangerous activities until you know how ethosuximide affects you. Ethosuximide can slow your thinking and motor skills.

Ethosuximide Dosage

Take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully.

The dose your doctor recommends may be based on you respond to the medication.

The initial dose for patients 3 to 6 years of age is 250 mg per day; for patients 6 years of age and older, 500 mg per day. The dose thereafter must be individualized according to the patient's response.

The optimal dose of ethosuximide for most pediatric patients is 20 mg/kg/day.

The maximum dose of ethosuximide in adults is 1.5 grams/day.

 

Ethosuximide Overdose

If you take too much ethosuximide, call your healthcare provider or your local Poison Control Center right away.

 

Other Requirements

  • Store ethosuximide capsules at room temperature, between 59°F to 86°F (15°C to 30°C).
  • Store ethosuximide syrup (oral solution) at 20°–25°C (68°–77°F). Preserve in tight containers. Protect from freezing and light.

Keep ethosuximide and all medicines out of the reach of children.