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Topamax Side Effects

Updated on June 7, 2010
Topiramate (generic Topamax)
Topiramate (generic Topamax)

Topamax is a medication that is used to treat epilepsy and migraines. Though there are numerous possible Topamax side effects, many of the side effects of Topamax are rare. Many people take Topamax without experiencing any side effects, but for others the side effects can be difficult.

The most common side effects of Topamax are fatigue, tingling sensations, insomnia, diarrhea, difficulty concentrating, and nausea. Surprisingly, a fairly common Topamax side effect is anorexia. Anorexia is a disorder characterized by misperceptions of the person's weight and body type and extreme aversion to food and any risk of gaining weight. Other Topamax side effects that can affect weight are loss of appetite, distorted sense of taste, and weight loss.

According to Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the makers of Topamax, this medication causes hair loss for some people. A rare but dangerous Topamax side effect is suicidal thoughts. If a person experiences suicidal thoughts, depression, or increased anxiety or panic attacks, or other changes in mood and behavior, the person should talk about these symptoms with the doctor.

A potentially dangerous side effect of Topamax is decreased bicarbonate levels in the blood. This lowered bicarbonate level increased the acidity of the blood which can lead to a condition called metabolic acidosis. Hyperventilating, irregular heart rate, and changes in consciousness are signs of metabolic acidosis. Any person who experiences these symptoms should notify the physician immediately.

Other rare side effects of Topamax include increased body temperature, kidney stones, decreased ability to sweat, irritability, and drowsiness. Topamax can cause glaucoma, so patients taking Topamax should contact their doctors immediately if they notice any changes in their vision.

In one study, up to one-fourth of the patients who started taking Topamax stopped doing so due to difficulty with the side effects. People should discuss their side effects with their physicians rather than discontinuing their medication on their own. The side effects of Topamax or almost any medication can be scary. It's important for the patient and doctor to discuss the benefits of any prescribed medications and the risks of side effects.

For general information about Topamax for migraines, please see my article: Topamax.

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    • Alayne Fenasci profile image

      Alayne Fenasci 7 years ago from Louisiana

      I was prescribed Topamax, but reacted badly to it. I lost my vision. It was such a strange event, that the company documented it for their research. At first, it was as if my glasses weren't strong enough. Within a few hours, I could barely make out bright lights. I did not take it the next day, and my vision returned about 24 hours after that. My eyeballs (not around my eyes) remained swollen for another day or two, but all went back to normal after that. It was the absolute strangest side effect I have ever experienced.