What is divalproex sodium?

Divalproex sodium affects chemicals in the body that may be involved in causing seizures.

Divalproex sodium is used to treat various types of seizure disorders. Divalproex sodium is sometimes used together with other seizure medications.

divalproex sodium is also used to treat manic episodes related to bipolar disorder (manic depression), and to prevent migraine headaches.

Divalproex sodium may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What is the most important information I should know about divalproex sodium?

Do not use divalproex sodium to prevent migraine headaches if you are pregnant.

If you take divalproex sodium for seizures or manic episodes: Do not start or stop taking the medicine during pregnancy without your doctor’s advice. Divalproex sodium may cause harm to an unborn baby, but having a seizure during pregnancy could harm both the mother and the baby.

You should not use divalproex sodium if you have liver disease, a urea cycle disorder, or a genetic disorder such as Alpers’ disease or Alpers-Huttenlocher syndrome (especially in a child younger than 2 years old).

Divalproex sodium can cause liver failure that may be fatal, especially in children under age 2 and in people with liver problems caused by a genetic mitochondrial (MYE-toe-KON-dree-al) disorder.

Call your doctor at once if the person taking this medicine has signs of liver or pancreas problems, such as: loss of appetite, upper stomach pain (that may spread to your back), ongoing nausea or vomiting, dark urine, swelling in the face, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking divalproex sodium?

  • You should not use divalproex sodium if you are allergic to it, or if you have:
  • liver disease;
  • a urea cycle disorder; or
  • a genetic mitochondrial (MYE-toe-KON-dree-al) disorder such as Alpers’ disease or Alpers-Huttenlocher syndrome, especially in a child younger than 2 years old.

Divalproex sodium can cause liver failure that may be fatal, especially in children under age 2 and in people with liver problems caused by a genetic mitochondrial disorder.

  • To make sure divalproex sodium is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
  • liver problems caused by a genetic mitochondrial disorder;
  • a history of depression, mental illness, or suicidal thoughts or actions;
  • a family history of a urea cycle disorder or infant deaths with unknown cause; or

HIV or CMV (cytomegalovirus) infection.

Some young people have thoughts about suicide when first taking divalproex sodium. Your doctor will need to check your progress at regular visits while you are using this medicine. Your family or other caregivers should also be alert to changes in your mood or symptoms.

Do not use divalproex sodium to prevent migraine headaches if you are pregnant.

If you take divalproex sodium for seizures or manic episodes: This medicine can harm an unborn baby or cause birth defects, and may affect cognitive ability (reasoning, intelligence, problem-solving) later in the child’s life. However, having a seizure during pregnancy could harm both the mother and the baby. Do not start or stop taking the medicine during pregnancy without your doctor’s advice.

Use effective birth control while using divalproex sodium, and tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant.

How should I take divalproex sodium?

Follow all directions on your prescription label. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose to make sure you get the best results. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Drink plenty of water while you are taking this medication. Your dose may need to be changed if you do not get enough fluids each day.

You may open the divalproex sodium sprinkle capsule and sprinkle the medicine into a spoonful of pudding or applesauce to make swallowing easier. Swallow this mixture right away.

Do not crush, chew, break, or open a delayed-release or extended-release tablet or capsule. Swallow it whole.

While using divalproex sodium, you may need frequent blood tests.

Wear a medical alert tag or carry an ID card stating that you take divalproex sodium. Any doctor, dentist, or emergency medical care provider who treats you should know that you are taking a seizure medication.

If you need surgery, tell the surgeon ahead of time that you are using divalproex sodium.

Do not stop using divalproex sodium suddenly, even if you feel fine. Stopping suddenly may cause a serious, life-threatening type of seizure. Follow your doctor’s instructions about tapering your dose.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

Divalproex sodium side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; fever, swollen glands, mouth sores, difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if the person taking this medicine has signs of liver or pancreas problems, such as: loss of appetite, upper stomach pain (that may spread to your back), ongoing nausea or vomiting, dark urine, swelling in the face, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor, such as: mood or behavior changes, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, or if you feel impulsive, irritable, agitated, hostile, aggressive, restless, hyperactive (mentally or physically), or have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself.

Call your doctor at once if you have any of these other side effects:

  • confusion, tiredness, cold feeling, vomiting, change in your mental state;
  • easy bruising, unusual bleeding (nose, mouth, or gums), purple or red pinpoint spots under your skin;
  • severe drowsiness;
  • worsening seizures;

signs of inflammation in your body–swollen glands, flu symptoms, severe tingling or numbness, muscle weakness, chest pain, new or worsening cough with fever, trouble breathing; or

severe skin reaction–fever, sore throat, swelling in your face or tongue, burning in your eyes, skin pain, followed by a red or purple skin rash that spreads (especially in the face or upper body) and causes blistering and peeling.

Common side effects may include:

  • mild nausea or vomiting, mild stomach pain, diarrhea;
  • headache, mild dizziness, weakness, tremors;
  • problems with balance or walking;
  • blurred vision, double vision; or
  • changes in appetite, weight gain.

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