Long-Term Side Effects of Tegretol

Tegretol is a brand name of carbamazepine. It is a medication used to control some types of seizures in the treatment of epilepsy. Doctors have also found that it helps to relieve neurological pain, resulting from trigeminal neuralgia. Although not included in product labeling, carbamazepine is used in certain patients to treat psychotic disorders, alcohol withdrawal and central partial diabetes insipidus. Tegretol is available in tablets, chewable tablets, extended-release tablets, suspension, and extended-release capsule form.

Some doctors use carbamazepine to treat alcohol withdrawal and emotional disorders. (Image: Jochen Sand/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Vision Problems

According to Epilepsy.com, Tegretol is prescribed frequently because of the low level of side effects. Blurred or double vision is a common side effect of Tegretol. Patients may find that reducing the overall amount of medication or taking smaller doses more often may lessen this side effect. Some patients find that using the extended-release form of the medication will reduce their problem with blurred or double vision.

Behavioral Changes

According to MayoClinic.com, behavioral changes can ensue in individuals who are taking Tegretol. The elderly can suffer from confusion, agitation or hostility, while children are more apt to exhibit other types of behavioral changes. Both may experience discouragement, feelings of unreality, sadness or emptiness as well as irritability. Individuals may also experience sudden and wide mood swings, or trouble concentrating.

Problems with Vitamin D and Calcium Absorption

According to Epilepsy.com, Tegretol interferes with the way that the body uses vitamin D. This in turn will interfere with the way the bones absorb calcium, which requires vitamin D. Vitamin D is also important in the function of the immune system in order to fight off the common cold and influenza. According to a 2004 article in "Neurology," Tegretol, as well as other antiseizure drugs are linked to osteoporosis, although study results are inconclusive.


In December 2008 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it would add a warning label to medication that it appeared to heighten the risk of suicide. However, in August 2010, researchers from the United Kingdom collected data from a cohort of over five million people to evaluate this claim. The results were published in the "New England Journal of Medicine" and concluded that anti-epileptic drugs were not associated with an increased risk of suicide, but were associated with an increased risk in individuals who already were suffering from depression or bipolar disorder.

Bone Marrow Suppression

According to the New Zealand Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority, Tegretol has also been linked with bone marrow suppression. They report the results of one study which included 977 patients treated with Tegretol and found that the occurrence rate of bone marrow suppression was two percent for individuals taking this medication. Although the rate is mild, physicians should be aware that patients may suffer from blood conditions that include low white blood cell counts and low platelet count.

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