be able to spot the side effects that can mean a high level of valproate. Look at the table below. It tells you what to do if you
get any side effects. Not everyone will get the side effects shown. There are many other possible side effects. Ask your
pharmacist, doctor or nurse if you are worried about anything else that you think might be a side effect.
Side effect What is it? What should I do if it happens to me?
Feeling sick. You have an upset stomach. This
usually happens at the start of treatment.
Take your valproate with or after food. If it is bad,
contact your doctor. The slow-release tablets may
Eating more and putting on weight. Avoid fatty foods like chocolate, crisps and fizzy
drinks. A diet full of vegetables and fibre will usually
help, as will physical activities such as walking. If it
becomes a problem or you are worried, ask to see a
ATAXIA Being very unsteady on your feet. Your valproate dose may be too high. Contact your
CONFUSION Your mind is all mixed up. Your valproate dose may be too high. Contact your
DROWSINESS Feeling sleepy or sluggish. This usually happens
early in treatment and should go away.
Don't drive or use machinery. Ask your doctor if you
can take your valproate at a different time.
HAIR LOSS Some of your hair falls out and may seem thinner.
This stops after a while. It may regrow curly.
Discuss this with your doctor.
Your liver is not working very well. You may feel
sleepy, be sick, lose your appetite and your skin
may look yellow.
Stop taking valproate and see your doctor as soon
TREMOR Feeling shaky. This may be due to the dose of valproate you are
taking. Discuss this with your doctor.
RASH A rash seen anywhere on the skin. Stop taking valproate and contact your doctor now.
Low numbers of platelets in your blood. The
platelets that are there may not work very well.
You may bruise without reason and bleed easily.
Stop taking valproate and see your doctor now.
What about alcohol?
It is officially recommended that people taking valproate should not drink alcohol. This is because both valproate and alcohol can cause
drowsiness. If the two are taken at the same time, severe drowsiness can result. This can lead to falls or accidents. As well as this,
drinking alcohol often makes your mood unstable. Excessive drinking is especially likely to do this. Once people are used to taking
medication, they can sometimes drink alcohol in small amounts without any harm. Avoid alcohol altogether for the first one or two
months. After this, if you want a drink, try a glass of your normal drink and see how you feel. If this doesn’t make you feel drowsy, then
it is probably OK to drink small amounts. It pays to be very cautious because alcohol affects people in different ways, especially when
they are taking medication.
Don’t stop taking your medication because you fancy a drink at the weekend. If you do drink alcohol, drink only small amounts. Never
drink any alcohol and drive while on valproate. Discuss any concerns you may have with your pharmacist, doctor or nurse.
When I feel better, can I stop taking valproate?
No. If you stop taking valproate, your original symptoms may return. You should decide with your doctor when you can come off it. Most
people need to be on valproate for quite a long time, sometimes years. This is not usually harmful. Valproate is not addictive.
Remember, leaflets like this can only describe some of the effects of medication. You may find other
books or leaflets also useful. If you have access to the internet you may find a lot of information
there as well, but be careful, as internet based information is not always accurate.
2001 United Kingdom Psychiatric Pharmacy Group www.ukppg.org.uk
This leaflet is to help you understand about your medicine. It is not an official manufacturer's Patient Information Leaflet.
For more information call the UKPPG National Telephone Helpline, 11am to 5pm, Monday to Friday on 020 7919 2999 or
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