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What Migraine Sufferers Should Know About Topamax


Updated June 04, 2010

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

What Is Topamax?:

Topamax is an anticonvulsant medication used to treat seizure disorder, but it has also been approved for use in preventing migraines. It's not entirely clear why Topamax seems to help with migraines, but one explanation is that it may calm "overexcited" nerves.

Special Precautions When Taking Topamax:

As with all medications, discuss whether or not Topamax is safe for you to use with your health care provider. Topamax can cause dizziness or drowsiness so be sure to avoid dangerous activities. Alcohol may increase the level of sedation so avoid using it while taking Topamax. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water to reduce the risk of forming kidney stones, especially during hot weather, exercise, or illness. Diets high in protein may also increase kidney stone formation.

Side Effects:

Common side effects of Topamax include:

  • Numbness and tingling, usually in the arms or legs
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble with memory and concentration
  • Taste change
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
Be sure to discuss any side effects you may experience with your health care provider.

Major Drug Interactions:

Most medications will interact with one or many other medications. This is true of Topamax, as well. Drugs that may have severe interactions with Topamax include oral contraceptives, Tegretol (carbamazepine), Dilantin (phenytoin), and Depakote (valproic acid). Your health care provider can help you understand whether or not you should be concerned about drug interactions.


Topamax Package Insert. Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Revised December 2009. https://www.topamax.com/topamax/assets/topamax.pdf#zoom=100

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