Lamictal belongs to a group of medicines called anti-epileptics. It is used to treat two conditions — epilepsy and bipolar disorder.
Why have I been prescribed Lamictal?
- Lamictal belongs to a group of medicines called anti-epileptics.
- It is used to treat two conditions — epilepsy and bipolar disorder.
How does it work?
- Lamictal treats epilepsy by blocking the signals in the brain that trigger epileptic seizures (fits).
- Lamictal also treats bipolar disorder. People with bipolar disorder (sometimes called manic depression) have extreme mood swings, with periods of mania (excitement or euphoria) alternating with periods of depression (deep sadness or despair).
- For adults aged 18 years and over, Lamictal can be used on its own or with other medicines, to prevent the periods of depression that occur in bipolar disorder.
When and how do I take it?
- Take your dose of Lamictal once or twice a day, as your doctor advises. It can be taken with or without food.
- Your doctor may also advise you to start or stop taking other medicines, depending on what condition you’re being treated for and the way you respond to treatment.
- Swallow your tablets whole. Don’t break, chew or crush them.
- Always take the full dose that your doctor has prescribed. Never take only part of a tablet.
What’s the dose?
- The usual effective dose of Lamictal for adults and children aged 13 years or over is between 100 mg and 400 mg each day.
- For children aged 2 to 12 years, the effective dose depends on their body weight — usually, it’s between 1 mg and 15 mg for each kilogram of the child’s weight, up to a maximum of 400 mg daily.
Lamictal is not recommended for children aged under 2 years.
Could it interact with other tablets?
Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you’re taking any other medicines, have taken any recently, or start taking new ones — these include herbal medicines or other medicines you bought without a prescription.
Your doctor needs to know if you are taking other medicines to treat epilepsy or mental health problems. This is to make sure you take the correct dose of Lamictal.
These medicines include:
- oxcarbazepine, felbamate, gabapentin, levetiracetam, pregabalin, topiramate or zonisamide, used to treat epilepsy
- lithium or olanzapine, used to treat mental health problems
- bupropion, used to treat mental health problems or to stop smoking
Tell your doctor if you are taking any of these.
Some medicines interact with Lamictal or make it more likely that people will have side effects. These include:
- valproate, used to treat epilepsy and mental health problems
- carbamazepine, used to treat epilepsy and mental health problems
- phenytoin, primidone or phenobarbitone, used to treat epilepsy
- risperidone, used to treat mental health problems
- rifampicin, which is an antibiotic
- a combination of lopinavir and ritonavir, used to treat Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection
- hormonal contraceptives, such as the Pill (see below).
Tell your doctor if you are taking any of these, or if you start or stop taking any.
Hormonal contraceptives (such as the Pill) can affect the way Lamictal works. Your doctor may recommend that you use a particular type of hormonal contraceptive, or another method of contraception, such as condoms, a cap or coil. If you are using a hormonal contraceptive like the Pill, your doctor may take samples of your blood to check the level of Lamictal.
Herbal products should also only be taken after talking with your doctor.
What are the possible risks or side-effects?
Like all medicines, Lamictal can cause side effects, but not everyone gets them.
Potentially serious reactions: get a doctor’s help straight away.
A small number of people taking Lamictal get an allergic reaction or potentially serious skin reaction, which may develop into more serious problems if they are not treated.
These symptoms are more likely to happen during the first few months of treatment with Lamictal, especially if the starting dose is too high or if the dose is increased too quickly, or if Lamictal is taken with another medicine called valproate. Some of the symptoms are more common in children, so parents should be especially careful to watch out for them.
Symptoms of these reactions include:
- skin rashes or redness, which may develop into severe skin reactions including widespread rash with blisters and peeling skin, particularly occurring around the mouth, nose, eyes and genitals (Stevens–Johnson syndrome), extensive peeling of the skin (more than 30% of the body surface – toxic epidermal necrolysis)
- a sore mouth or eyes
- a high temperature (fever), flu-like symptoms or drowsiness
- swelling around your face, or swollen glands in your neck, armpit or groin
- unexpected bleeding or bruising, or the fingers turning blue
- a sore throat, or more infections (such as colds) than usual.
In many cases, these symptoms will be signs of less serious side effects. But you must be aware that they are potentially serious and can develop into more serious problems, such as organ failure, if they are not treated. If you notice any of these symptoms: Contact a doctor immediately. Your doctor may decide to carry out tests on your liver, kidneys or blood, and may tell you to stop taking Lamictal.
Very common side effects:
These may affect more than 1 in 10 people:
- feeling dizzy
- feeling sleepy or drowsy
- clumsiness and lack of co-ordination (ataxia)
- double vision or blurred vision
- feeling sick (nausea) or being sick (vomiting)
- skin rash.
Common side effects:
These may affect up to 1 in 10 people:
- aggression or irritability
- rapid, uncontrollable eye movements (nystagmus)
- shaking or tremours
- difficulty in sleeping
- dry mouth
- feeling tired
- pain in your back or joints, or elsewhere.
Can I drink Alcohol while taking it?
- There are no known interactions between alcohol and Lamictal.
- Always check with your doctor or pharmacist however as other medicines you may be taking may have an effect on this.
What if I’m pregnant/breastfeeding?
- There may be an increased risk of birth defects in babies whose mothers took Lamictal during pregnancy. These defects include cleft lip or cleft palate. Your doctor may advise you to take extra folic acid if you’re planning to become pregnant and while you’re pregnant.
- Pregnancy may also alter the effectiveness of Lamictal, so you may need blood tests and your dose of Lamictal may be adjusted.
- Talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant, if you might be pregnant, or if you’re planning to become pregnant. You should not stop treatment without discussing this with your doctor. This is particularly important if you have epilepsy.
- Talk to your doctor if you’re breast feeding or planning to breast feed. The active ingredient of Lamictal passes into breast milk and may affect your baby. Your doctor will discuss the risks and benefits of breast feeding while you’re taking Lamictal, and will check your baby from time to time if you decide to breast feed.
If you have any more questions please ask your Pharmacist.
Remember to keep all medicines out of reach of children
Please Note: We have made every effort to ensure that the content of this information sheet is correct at time of publish, but remember that information about drugs may change. This sheet does not list all the uses and side-effects associated with this drug. For full details please see the drug information leaflet which comes with your medicine. Your doctor will assess your medical circumstances and draw your attention to any information or side-effects which may be relevant in your particular case.