Before taking valproic acid,
tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to valproic acid, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in the type of valproic acid that has been prescribed for you. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: acyclovir (Zovirax), anticoagulants ('blood thinners') such as warfarin (Coumadin), amitriptyline, aspirin, carbamazepine (Tegretol), cholestyramine (Prevalite), clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), doripenem (Doribax), ertapenem (Invanz), ethosuximide (Zarontin), felbamate (Felbatol), certain hormonal contraceptives (birth control pills, rings, patches, implants, injections, and intrauterine devices), imipenem and cilastatin (Primaxin), lamotrigine (Lamictal),medications for anxiety or mental illness, meropenem (Merrem), nortriptyline (Pamelor), phenobarbital, phenytoin (Dilantin), primidone (Mysoline), rifampin (Rifadin), rufinamide (Banzel), sedatives, sleeping pills, tolbutamide, topiramate (Topamax),tranquilizers,and zidovudine (Retrovir). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
tell your doctor if you have or have ever had episodes of confusion and loss of ability to think and understand, especially during pregnancy or childbirth; coma (loss of consciousness for a period of time); difficulty coordinating your movements; human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); or cytomegalovirus (CMV; a virus that can cause symptoms in people who have weak immune systems).
tell your doctor if you are breast feeding.
if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking valproic acid.
you should know that valproic acid may make you drowsy. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how this medication affects you.
remember that alcohol can add to the drowsiness caused by this medication.
you should know that valproic acid can cause extreme drowsiness that may cause you to eat or drink less than you normally would, especially if you are elderly. Tell your doctor if you are not able to eat or drink as you normally do.
you should know that your mental health may change in unexpected ways and you may become suicidal (thinking about harming or killing yourself or planning or trying to do so) while you are taking valproic acid for the treatment of epilepsy, mental illness, or other conditions. A small number of adults and children 5 years of age and older (about 1 in 500 people) who took anticonvulsants such as valproic acid to treat various conditions during clinical studies became suicidal during their treatment. Some of these people developed suicidal thoughts and behavior as early as one week after they started taking the medication. There is a risk that you may experience changes in your mental health if you take an anticonvulsant medication such as valproic acid, but there may also be a risk that you will experience changes in your mental health if your condition is not treated. You and your doctor will decide whether the risks of taking an anticonvulsant medication are greater than the risks of not taking the medication. You, your family, or your caregiver should call your doctor right away if you experience any of the following symptoms: panic attacks; agitation or restlessness; new or worsening irritability, anxiety, or depression; acting on dangerous impulses; difficulty falling or staying asleep; aggressive, angry, or violent behavior; mania (frenzied, abnormally excited mood); talking or thinking about wanting to hurt yourself or end your life; withdrawing from friends and family; preoccupation with death and dying; giving away prized possessions; or any other unusual changes in behavior or mood. Be sure that your family or caregiver knows which symptoms may be serious so they can call the doctor if you are unable to seek treatment on your own.