Carbamazepine is a prescription medicine. It's important to take it as instructed by your doctor.
How much carbamazepine you take will depend on the condition you're taking it for.
You'll usually start on a low dose of 100mg to 200mg, 1 to 4 times a day. This will be increased over several weeks until you get to the dose that is right for you.
The usual total daily dose dose for adults is:
- epilepsy – 800mg to 1,200mg
- nerve pain – 600mg to 800mg
- bipolar disorder – 400mg to 600mg
In children, the dose of carbamazepine will depend on their weight. Your child's doctor will be able to prescribe the right dose for them.
Changes to your dose
To reduce the chance of side effects, your doctor will start you off on a low dose of carbamazepine. They will increase it gradually over a few days or weeks.
Once you find a dose that suits you, it will usually stay the same, unless your condition changes, or your doctor starts you on a new medicine that may affect carbamazepine.
How to take it
If you take carbamazepine up to 4 times a day, try to space your doses evenly through the day. For example, take it first thing in the morning, after lunch, late afternoon and in the evening.
You can take any type of carbamazepine with or without food.
How to take tablets
Swallow the tablets whole with a drink of water.
If you have difficulty swallowing tablets whole, they have a score line across the middle to help you break the tablet in half.
How to take liquid
Shake the bottle before you measure out your dose.
The medicine will come with a plastic syringe or spoon to help you measure out the right dose. If you do not have one, ask your pharmacist for one. Do not use a kitchen teaspoon as it will not measure the right amount.
How to take suppositories
Read the instructions in the leaflet inside the package. They will explain how to use the suppository.
Take the wrapping off and push a suppository gently into your bottom (anus).
How long to take it for
If you have epilepsy or bipolar disorder, it's likely that once your condition is under control you will still need to take carbamazepine for several years.
If you have nerve pain, once the pain has gone you will need to take carbamazepine for several months to stop it coming back.
If you forget to take it
If you miss a dose of carbamazepine, take the missed dose as soon as you remember unless the next dose is nearly due. In this case, it's better to leave out the missed dose and take your next dose at the usual time.
Do not take 2 doses at the same time to make up for a forgotten dose.
If you have epilepsy, it's important to take this medicine regularly. Missing doses may trigger a seizure.
If you forget doses often, it may help to set an alarm to remind you. You could also ask your pharmacist for advice on other ways to help you remember to take your medicine.
If you take carbamazepine for epilepsy, you may have seizures once you stop taking it. You can prevent these withdrawal seizures by reducing the dose of your carbamazepine gradually.
However, if you are taking if for bipolar disorder or nerve pain, your condition could get worse for a short time after stopping it.
Do not stop taking carbamazepine unless your doctor tells you to.
If you take too much
Taking too much carbamazepine can lead to serious side effects.