|Type of medicine||Carbonic anhydrase inhibitor|
Some types of epilepsy
|Available as||Tablets, modified-release capsules and injection|
Acetazolamide works by stopping the action of a chemical in the body called carbonic anhydrase. As a result, the amount of some salts in the body are reduced and this promotes a loss of fluid from the body.
Acetazolamide reduces the amount of fluid produced in the eye and this helps reduce the high pressure present in glaucoma.
Acetazolamide can also be useful in some types of epilepsy alongside other medicines.
Before taking acetazolamide
Before taking acetazolamide make sure your doctor or pharmacist knows:
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
- If you have breathing problems.
- If you know you have low potassium or sodium, or high levels of acid in your blood.
- If you have liver or kidney problems, or trouble passing urine.
- If you have a type of glaucoma called chronic non-congestive angle-closure glaucoma.
- If you have diabetes mellitus.
- If you have problems with your adrenal glands such as Addison's disease.
- If you are taking other medicines, including those available to buy without a prescription, herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to this or any other medicine. This is particularly important if you are allergic to sulphonamide antibiotics.
How to take acetazolamide
- Before starting this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack.
- Take acetazolamide exactly as your doctor has told you. Your dose will depend on what you are being treated for.
- If you have been given the modified-release capsules of acetazolamide (Diamox® SR), swallow these whole with a drink of water. They should not be chewed.
- Try to take acetazolamide at the same time(s) each day to avoid missing any doses.
- If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember unless it is nearly time for your next dose, in which case leave out the missed dose. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Keep your regular appointments with your doctor so your progress can be monitored.
- Acetazolamide is not generally recommended for long-term use but if you need to take acetazolamide over a period of time your doctor will want you to have blood tests.
- If you have diabetes, acetazolamide may affect your blood sugar levels. Test your urine or blood regularly and speak with your doctor if you notice any changes.
- If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take alongside acetazolamide.
Can acetazolamide cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.
|Common side-effects - these affect less than 1 in 10 people who take this medicine||What can I do if I experience this|
|Dizziness, drowsiness, tiredness||Make sure your reactions are normal before driving, operating machinery or doing any other jobs which could be dangerous if you were not fully alert|
|Feeling or being sick||Eat little and often. Stick to simple or bland foods. Taking the tablets at meal times may help|
|Diarrhoea||Drink plenty of water to replace any lost fluids|
|Headache||Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller|
|Changes in the way things taste, loss of appetite, flushing, mood changes, thirstiness, tingling feelings, increased need to pass urine, and reduced sexual desire||If any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor|
Some medicines which can be used to treat epilepsy have been associated with a small risk of developing mood changes, distressing thoughts and feelings about suicide. The likelihood of having such thoughts with acetazolamide is not known, but if this happens to you, tell your doctor straight away.
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store acetazolamide
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
Further reading & references
- British National Formulary; 60th Edition (September 2010) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London.
- Manufacturer's PIL, Diamox® Tablets 250 mg; Manufacturer's PIL, Diamox® Tablets 250 mg, Goldshield plc, electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated January 2006.
- Manufacturer's PIL, Diamox® SR 250mg Capsules; Manufacturer's PIL, Diamox® SR 250mg Capsules, Goldshield plc, electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated September 2010.
|Original Author: Helen Allen||Current Version: Helen Allen|
|Last Checked: 20/04/2011||Document ID: 3257 Version: 24||© EMIS|
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.