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Valproic Acid

Valproic Acid is a prescription used to;

  • Treat seizure disorder
  • Treat mental/mood conditions such as the manic phase of bipolar disorder
  • Prevent migraine headaches 

Seizure disorder is an uncontrolled electrical disturbance in the brain. It can cause changes in your movements, feelings, behavior, and levels of consciousness. You have epilepsy if you tend to have recurrent seizures or two or more seizures. Seizures are more common than you might think. It can happen after a stroke, a closed head injury, and an infection such as meningitis. Most seizure disorders can be controlled with medication, but the management of seizures can still have a significant impact on your daily life. With a seizure, signs and symptoms can range from mild to severe and vary depending on the type of seizure. Seizure signs and symptoms may include:

  • A staring spell
  • Temporary confusion
  • Loss of consciousness or awareness
  • Uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs
  • Cognitive or emotional symptoms such as anxiety, fear, or déjà vu 

The manic phase of bipolar disorder causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs and lows. When you become depressed, you may feel sad or hopeless and lose interest or pleasure in most activities. These mood swings may affect your sleep, energy, judgment, activity, behavior, and the ability to think clearly. Incidents of mood swings may happen infrequently or many times a year. Though most people will experience episodes of some emotional symptoms, some might not experience any. Symptoms can cause unpredictable changes in mood and behavior. This results in significant distress and difficulty in life. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Increased activity, energy or agitation
  • Abnormally upbeat, jumpy or wired
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Racing thoughts
  • Unusual talkativeness
  • Distractibility

Migraine headaches can cause severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation. Usually, it is on one side of the head. It’s often accompanied by vomiting, nausea, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine attacks can last for hours to days, and the pain can be so severe that it interferes with your daily activities. A migraine usually lasts from four to 72 hours if untreated. A migraine happens differs from person to person. It might happen seldom or attack numerous times a month. During an attack, you might have:

  • Pain that throbs or pulses
  • The pain usually on one side of your head, but often on both sides
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light, sound, and sometimes smell and touch

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already approved this prescription. Valproic Acid is anticonvulsant. This restores the balance of certain natural substances in the brain. Valproic Acid comes as a capsule for oral use. Each capsule is available in the dosage strengths of 125 mg, 250 mg, and 500 mg. 

How does Valproic Acid work?

Valproate prevents epileptic fits by stabilizing unnecessary electrical activity in the brain. It is thought to achieve this in two ways; by increasing the activity of a natural ‘nerve-calming’ agent called GABA in the brain. Second is by preventing electrical signals from building up in nerve cells in the brain.

When used as a mood stabilizer to control a manic episode, Valproic acid needs to be taken for 1 to 2 weeks before you notice an improvement in your symptoms. You may notice an improvement earlier if Valproic Acid is combined with other medications.

How to use Valproic Acid?

Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

You may take each dose with or without food. Drink plenty of liquids while you are taking Valproic Acid. Use this product regularly to get the most benefit. Get your prescription refilled before you run out of medicine completely.  

The dosage is based on your medical condition, age, and response to the treatment. Remember to take it in the same way and at the same time each day. Swallow the tablet as a whole with a full glass of water. Do not break, chew, or crush it. If you missed a dose, take it as soon as you remember it. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and follow your regular schedule. Do not double the dose to make up for the missed dose. 

What are the side effects of Valproic Acid?

Common side effects:

  • Weakness
  • Drowsiness 
  • Constipation 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Abdominal pain
  • Upset stomach
  • Nausea
  • Indigestion
  • Vomiting 
  • Enlarged breasts
  • Changes in menstrual periods
  • Shaking or tremors
  • Hair loss
  • Dizziness
  • Rash
  • Weight changes
  • Vision changes
  • Rash
  • Unusual or unpleasant taste in your mouth

Tell your doctor right away if you have these side effects:

  • Easy bruising
  • Unusual bleeding
  • Purple or red pinpoint spots under your skin
  • Severe drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Tiredness
  • Cold feeling
  • Change in your mental state
  • Worsening seizures
  • Signs of inflammation in your body (trouble breathing, muscle weakness, flu symptoms, severe tingling or numbness, or worsening cough with fever 

Warnings and Precautions

  • Do not drink alcohol while having Valproic Acid.
  • Valproic Acid can harm an unborn baby. You must use effective contraception to avoid getting pregnant while taking it. 
  • Women and girls who are pregnant or who could get pregnant, unless there is no safer alternative. Taking Valproic Acid during pregnancy increases the risk of having a baby with malformations, abnormalities such as spina bifida and developmental problems after birth. Valproate is associated with a higher risk of problems than other antiepileptic medicines.
  • This medication is not recommended in people with active liver disease or a personal/family history of severe liver problems. People with rare hereditary blood disorders called porphyrias. 
  • Before taking this prescription, let your doctor know if you have a history of liver disease, kidney problems, disorders of urea production in the liver, and brain disease. Tell as well if you have a condition called systemic lupus erythematosus, diabetes, or a risk of getting osteoporosis.  
  • Valproic Acid passes into breast milk in small amounts. Women who are taking this drug should get medical advice from their doctor before deciding to breastfeed. 
  • Keep this far from direct heat or light.