What Are the Effects of Dilantin?

Dilantin (phenytoin sodium) is an antiepileptic (anti-seizure) drug used in the treatment of grand mal and temporal lobe seizures. Dilantin is available in an oral suspension or pill form. If you are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, you should not take Dilantin. It may cause harmful effects to the fetus. Dilantin should not be stopped abruptly, as this may cause prolonged, repeated seizures and convulsions. Dilantin also has side effects of which you should be aware.

Rash and Itching

Rash may occur while taking Dilantin. If the rash is scale-like, characterized by reddish or purplish spots, or consists of (fluid-filled) blisters, your doctor may stop Dilantin and prescribe an alternative treatment, states PDR Health. If the rash is measles-like, you may be asked to stop Dilantin until the rash subsides. You may experience skin itching during treatment with Dilantin. Over-the-counter medications such as Cortaid may help relieve mild itching. Any incidence of skin alteration should be reported to your healthcare provider.

Nervousness and Insomnia

You may experience nervousness while taking Dilantin. This side effect may diminish over time as your body adjusts to the medication. Insomnia, an inability to fall or stay asleep, is another side effect of Dilantin. Warm milk or soothing herbal tea may help remedy this. If nervousness and insomnia become intolerable, your physician may prescribe a medication to help you relax and fall asleep.

Headache and Dizziness

Headache and dizziness are side effects of Dilantin, reports Drugs.com. You may want to use caution while driving or operating machinery until you know how this medication will affect you. Headache can be treated with acetaminophen or ibuprofen as per your doctor’s consent. Headache and dizziness may lessen over time as your body adjusts to Dilantin.

Mental Confusion and Decreased Coordination

Mental confusion and decreased coordination can occur while using Dilantin. It is important to use caution in your daily activities until you understand how Dilantin will affect you. If confusion and decreased coordination begin to negatively impact your daily lifestyle, speak to your physician. He may be able to alter your medication regimen.

About this Author

Laura Candelaria is a family nurse practitioner and assistant professor of nursing and nutritional science. Her experience includes neonatal and pediatric intensive-care, women’s oncology, gynecology, obstetrics, lactation, nutrition, and infertility. She has been published in “Nursing Spectrum,” “Newsday,” and LIVESTRONG Health.