Phenobarbital - Uses - Dosages - Side Effects - Precautions

Phenobarbital: Frequently Asked Questions Answered

What is phenobarbital?

Phenobarbital is a medication that comes under the drug category of anticonvulsants and barbiturates. Before prescribing phenobarbital, doctors look at factors like your age, weight, and medical condition. You can take phenobarbital tablets or elixirs orally. 

Psychological and physical dependence can occur in most cases of long-standing usage of phenobarbital. Thus, stay alert and take precautions to consume the drug only with a doctor’s prescription and supervision.

What are the uses of phenobarbital?

Phenobarbital functions by slowing the activity of the brain. Its primary uses lie in treating seizures, insomnia, and status epilepticus. In status epilepticus, the patient has continuous seizures lasting for over half an hour, or consequent seizures with no consciousness in between.

It also helps in controlling anxiety.

Further, if a patient is dependent on any other barbiturate medication, phenobarbital helps to stop the addiction by working as a habit breaker.

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What are the side effects of phenobarbital?

Side effects after taking phenobarbital may be:

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Don’t ignore these symptoms if they persist or worsen. Few patients may show severe adverse effects after taking phenobarbital, like a severe rash, itching, swelling, or breathing difficulties.

Doctors prescribe phenobarbital only in cases where the benefits outweigh the risks. Proper dosages and precautions can help you prevent side effects. 

However, notify your doctor immediately if you face any of these problems after taking phenobarbital:

  • Clumsiness
  • Shallow breathing
  • Depression
  • Thoughts about self-harm
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Mood changes


Frequently Asked Questions about Phenobarbital

1. Can you inject phenobarbital?

Yes. However, this is done only when the doctor decides that the condition is an emergency and the patient requires a phenobarbital injection. In such instances, they will administer the drug intramuscularly or intravenously. You should not start injecting the drug without a doctor’s supervision.

2. Can you overdose on phenobarbital?

Yes. Symptoms of a phenobarbital overdose include:

  • Low pulse rate
  • Shallow breathing
  • Cold skin
  • Lower urination rate
  • Feeling cold
  • Fainting episodes
You can also become dependent on the drug, which might lead to lethal overdosing. Strictly abide by the prescribed dosage and consult your doctor if you think the current dosage is not working for you.

3. How long does phenobarbital stay in a dog's system?

The drug stays for 7–10 days in a dog's system. The effects of the drug cease within a week, but it might take a longer time for animals who have liver or kidney disease.
Furthermore, always consult a vet before you give any drug, especially phenobarbital, to your dog, as there may be chances of overdosing.

4. Is phenobarbital a controlled substance?

Yes. The Drug Enforcement Administration classifies phenobarbital as a Schedule IV controlled substance. This certifies that one may become physically dependent on phenobarbital if one uses it for a significant period. Therefore, doctors prescribe it for a limited duration to avoid the chances of addiction. They’ll also ensure to taper the dosage gradually to not cause withdrawal symptoms.

5. Is Phenobarbital a narcotic?

No. Phenobarbital is a non-narcotic depressant and is classified as a sedative or hypnotic drug. Despite not being a narcotic, it can still cause dependency. You may also develop withdrawal symptoms if you stop it abruptly. Hence, strictly use it as a prescriptive medicine. Phenobarbital substance abuse will be fatal to your health.

6. Can phenobarbital cause death?

Phenobarbital is addictive, and people may overdose on it. This leads to lung and kidney disorders which may ultimately cause death.
Patients overdosing on the drug show minimal electrical activity in the brain. In extreme cases where the patient is hospitalized after an overdose, doctors will interpret this as a sign of them being brain-dead.

7. Can phenobarbital cause brain damage?

Phenobarbital helps to control abnormal brain activity during seizure episodes. However, prolonged usage shows adverse effects like behavioral problems and dementia. Phenobarbital can cause brain damage up to an extent if proper precautions are not maintained. Therefore, do not self-medicate. Always administer such drugs under a doctor’s prescription and supervision.

8. Is Phenobarbital a sedative?

Yes. Phenobarbital is a sedative that helps to decrease abnormal brain activities. Doctors mainly prescribe the drug for patients suffering from seizures. However, overuse and abuse may cause drowsiness and an increased feeling of sedation. This can further lead to life-threatening addiction. Therefore, use it as a sedative only when a doctor prescribes it as such.

9. What is the antidote for phenobarbital?

Phenobarbital is an anticonvulsant. Doctors and patients must exercise extreme care and precautions while prescribing and administering it. Overdosing or drug toxicity may occur when a patient self-medicates or is addicted to the drug. No antidote is known for combatting a phenobarbital overdose. The patient can only receive supportive care thereafter.

10. Does phenobarbital make you feel good?

Phenobarbital induces a euphoric feeling that induces addiction. This feeling, however, is only for a short time. Very soon, the patient builds resistance to a specific dosage. To feel euphoric again, they increase the dosage and continue the cycle. In the long run, this leads to overdose, which is a life-threatening condition.

If you have queries or concerns regarding phenobarbital’s uses, potential side effects, and dosage, speak to our team of experts at Yashoda Hospitals today. We’ll ensure your concerns are at bay with our world-class, trusted healthcare facilities and specialists.

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Disclaimer: The information provided herein is accurate, updated and complete as per the best practices of the Company. Please note that this information should not be treated as a replacement for physical medical consultation or advice. We do not guarantee the accuracy and the completeness of the information so provided. The absence of any information and/or warning to any drug shall not be considered and assumed as an implied assurance of the Company. We do not take any responsibility for the consequences arising out of the aforementioned information and strongly recommend you for a physical consultation in case of any queries or doubts.