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Valproic acid (By mouth)

Valproic Acid (val-PROE-ik AS-id)

Treats seizures. Also treats mood disorders and helps prevent migraine headaches. This medicine is an anticonvulsant.

Brand Name(s):

Depakene, Depakote Sprinkles, Stavzor

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

Do not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to divalproex, sodium valproate, or valproic acid. Do not use this medicine if you are pregnant. Do not use this medicine if you have liver disease or certain genetic disorders (such as urea cycle disorder or mitochondrial disorder, including Alpers-Huttenlocher syndrome).

How to Use This Medicine:

Delayed Release Capsule, Liquid Filled Capsule, Liquid

  • Take your medicine as directed. Your dose may need to be changed several times to find what works best for you.
  • You may take this medicine with food to decrease stomach upset.
  • Swallow the capsule whole. Do not crush, break, or chew it.
  • Measure the oral liquid medicine with a marked measuring spoon, oral syringe, or medicine cup.
  • This medicine should come with a Medication Guide. Ask your pharmacist for a copy if you do not have one.

If a dose is missed:

  • Take a dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then and take a regular dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.
  • If you miss 2 or more doses, call your doctor.

How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine:

  • Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.
  • Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
  • Keep all medicine out of the reach of children. Never share your medicine with anyone.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid:

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you also use aspirin, rifampin (Rifadin®, Rimactane®), tolbutamide, zidovudine (Retrovir®), other seizure medicines (such as carbamazepine, ethosuximide, felbamate, lamotrigine, phenobarbital, phenytoin, primidone, topiramate, Dilantin®, Felbatol®, Lamictal®, Mysoline®, Tegretol®, Topamax®), medicine for sleeping or nerves (such as clonazepam, diazepam, Klonopin®, Valium®), medicine to treat infections (such as ertapenem, imipenem/cilastatin, meropenem, Invanz®, Merrem®, Primaxin®), medicine to treat depression (such as amitriptyline, nortriptyline, Elavil®), or a blood thinner (such as warfarin, Coumadin®, Jantoven®).
  • Alcohol, narcotic pain relievers, or sleeping pills may cause you to feel more lightheaded, dizzy, or faint when used with this medicine. Tell your doctor if you drink alcohol or use pain relievers or sleeping pills.

Warnings While Using This Medicine:

  • Using this medicine while you are pregnant, especially during the first trimester, can harm your unborn baby. Use an effective form of birth control to keep from getting pregnant. Tell your doctor right away if you think you have become pregnant while using this medicine. Talk to your doctor if you are planning to become pregnant.
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are breastfeeding, or if you have kidney disease, pancreas problems, blood disease, brain disease, depression, or a history of depression or mental illness.
  • This medicine can increase thoughts of suicide. Tell your doctor right away if you start to feel more depressed or have thoughts about hurting yourself. Report any unusual thoughts or behaviors that trouble you, especially if they are new or getting worse quickly.
  • Tell your doctor right away if you have dark urine or pale stools, loss of appetite, stomach pain, or yellow eyes or skin. These could be symptoms of serious kidney or liver problems.
  • Tell your doctor right away if you have sudden and severe stomach pain, chills, constipation, nausea, vomiting, or a fever. These could be symptoms of pancreatitis.
  • This medicine can cause problems with certain types of blood cells. Tell your doctor right away if you have swollen glands or unusual bleeding or bruising.
  • Check with your doctor right away if you have unusual tiredness or weakness, confusion, memory problems, or vomiting. These may be symptoms of a serious condition called hyperammonemic encephalopathy.
  • Do not stop using this medicine suddenly. Your doctor will need to slowly decrease your dose before you stop it completely.
  • Tell any doctor or dentist who treats you that you are using this medicine. This medicine may affect certain medical test results.
  • This medicine may make you dizzy or drowsy. Do not drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous until you know how this medicine affects you.
  • Your doctor will do lab tests at regular visits to check on the effects of this medicine. Keep all appointments.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine:

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Confusion, problems with memory, muscle twitching, problems with balance, walking, or speech
  • Dark urine or pale stools, loss of appetite, pain in your upper stomach, yellow skin or eyes
  • Fever, chills, cough, sore throat, or body aches
  • Rapid weight gain, swelling in your hands, ankles, or feet
  • Sudden and severe stomach pain, nausea, vomiting,
  • Thoughts of hurting yourself, depression, unusual changes in behavior
  • Unusual bleeding, bruising, or weakness

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Anxiety, agitation, restlessness, trouble sleeping
  • Blurred vision, dizziness
  • Constipation, diarrhea
  • Hair loss
  • Headache
  • Runny or stuffy nose

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

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


Last Updated: 8/4/2014


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