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What causes drowsiness and loss of balance after taking Oxcarbazepine?

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Posted on Fri, 11 Jul 2014
Question: My mother is 90 years old and in general good health. She is very active and up to last week lived in her home, paid her bills and drove her car. She experienced what I thought was a stroke but was later diagnosed in the hospital as experiencing "Todd's Palsy". The attending hospital doctor prescribed "oxcarbazepine" to her, 300 mg. 2 x day for one week and now 600 mg. 2x day. Since being on the 300 mg. 2x day, she has experienced all of the side effects " drowsiness, loss of balance, headache, and a swollen thumb". She fell backwards last Tuesday off of the lower step at my front door and cut her right hand deeply when she attempted to brace herself. Thankfully, my gardenia hedge broke her fall. I have caught her several times when she was stumbling backwards.
I do not feel that she should continue with this drug and would like to take her off of it. From my observations the "oxcarbazepine" is causing her great harm. She has been referred to a neurologist but the earliest appointment is September 8, 2014. Her G.P. MD has great concern about the effects of this drug on my mother and has attempted to contact the local neurologist who did a consult while she was in the hospital. Our appointment is not with this neurologist. How can we safely take my mother off of this drug and should we be concerned about her having another Todd's Palsy episode. The neurologist advised that a year ago that my mother did not have a stroke but showed evidence of Todd's Palsy.
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Answered by Dr. Albana Sejdini (7 hours later)
Brief Answer:
Should consult with neurologist first...

Detailed Answer:
Hi there,

I have gone through the medical history of your mother and feel sorry for the situation she is in.

Drowsiness, loss of balance are common side effects related to oxcarbazepine use, especially when it is first introduced to her. As she is taking this drug, I advise to make her rest more.

Please understand that Todd's palsy is a cerebral palsy after having a seizure. Her neurologist has prescribed oxcarbazepine to reduce the seizure episodes, thus, she won't experienced palsy.

This is to explain to you that your mother needs this medication for her own good. So, kindly advise her to have more rest especially at this first days of taking this drug until her body will get used and won't have such side effects.

I understand that she is an active person. But, you need to understand that she needs to take more care of her self, especially now.

With regards to taking this medication off on your own, I do not recommend it. You should run EEG, MRI and consult with neurologist first. Then, decide to take it off.

Usually, the dose should be reduced with 150 mg less/day once 3 to 6 days until taking this medication off. Once again, should think over before making such decision! This is for your mom's own good!

All the best to your mom and to all of you!
Dr.Albana
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Answered by
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Dr. Albana Sejdini

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :2006

Answered : 7176 Questions

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What causes drowsiness and loss of balance after taking Oxcarbazepine?

Brief Answer: Should consult with neurologist first... Detailed Answer: Hi there, I have gone through the medical history of your mother and feel sorry for the situation she is in. Drowsiness, loss of balance are common side effects related to oxcarbazepine use, especially when it is first introduced to her. As she is taking this drug, I advise to make her rest more. Please understand that Todd's palsy is a cerebral palsy after having a seizure. Her neurologist has prescribed oxcarbazepine to reduce the seizure episodes, thus, she won't experienced palsy. This is to explain to you that your mother needs this medication for her own good. So, kindly advise her to have more rest especially at this first days of taking this drug until her body will get used and won't have such side effects. I understand that she is an active person. But, you need to understand that she needs to take more care of her self, especially now. With regards to taking this medication off on your own, I do not recommend it. You should run EEG, MRI and consult with neurologist first. Then, decide to take it off. Usually, the dose should be reduced with 150 mg less/day once 3 to 6 days until taking this medication off. Once again, should think over before making such decision! This is for your mom's own good! All the best to your mom and to all of you! Dr.Albana