How Anti-Seizure Meds like Dilantin® Helps Prevent and Control Seizures

Seizure medication on brain

A seizure is sometimes described as an electrical storm in the brain. A sudden increase in electrical activity in the brain can trigger a seizure.

Dilantin® (phenytoin) is a prescription anti-seizure medication.  This medication is an anticonvulsant, meaning it helps control and prevent generalized tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizures and complex partial seizures.

How is  Dilantin® prescribed?

Dilantin® comes as a capsule and must be taken exactly as prescribed.  It is often prescribed as a once a day medication though your doctor may prescribe it in two or more divided doses.  Your prescribed dose will depend on your doctor’s diagnosis of your medical condition(s), your reaction to the medication, other medications you may be taking, and other criteria set by your doctor.

Dilantin Infatabs® are tablets that may be chewed before swallowing, or may be swallowed as the whole tablet. It is usually prescribed to be taken 2-3 times per day.

Brand name Dilantin® – 30 mg capsule

Brand name Dilantin® – 100 mg capsule

Brand name Dilantin Infatabs® – 50 mg tablet

Generic Phenytoin – 100 mg capsule

This medication should be taken at the same time each day to ensure there is a constant steady level of this medication in your body.

Do not take calcium supplements or antacids at the same time as this medication as it my decrease the absorption of the Dilantin®.

Do not stop taking this medication without your doctor’s guidance, as stopping Dilantin® suddenly may create unpleasant side effects and possibly make seizures worse.    

Dilantin® Side Effects

Like many medications, prescription Dilantin® may have some side effects.  Some common side effects experienced by people who take Dilantin® include:

  • Swelling/bleeding of gums
  • Headache
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Drowsiness

Speak to your pharmacist about what other possible side  effects may be experienced when you take prescription Dilantin®.  Be sure to tell your doctor if you are taking any other medications, including anti-seizure medications (ethotoin, phenobarbital, ethosuximide, carbamazepine, trimethadione)

If you have any of the following medical conditions or a history of these medical conditions, tell your doctor before taking Dilantin®:

  • Diabetes
  • Liver disease
  • Lupus
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Blood conditions such as porphyria
  • A history of alcohol abuse
  • Pregnancy or plans to become pregnant

What other conditions does Dilantin® treat?

Dilantin® may be used for several medical conditions including:

  • Epilepsy
  • Complex partial seizures
  • Generalized Tonic-Clonic seizures
  • Prevention of seizures following a head injury
  • Prevention of seizures during neurosurgery

What is a Seizure?

Watch this video from The Epilepsy Foundation and visit their website at to learn more about epilepsy and to learn seizure first aid.

This article contains medical information provided to help you better understand this particular medical condition or process, and may contain information about medication often used as part of a treatment plan prescribed by a doctor.  It is not intended to be used as either a diagnosis or recommendation for treatment of your particular medical situation.  If you are unwell, concerned about your physical or mental state, or are experiencing symptoms you should speak with your doctor or primary health care provider. If you are in medical distress please contact emergency services (such as 911). 

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