Phenobarbital overdose

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Phenobarbital overdose

Phenobarbital is a medication recommended by the World Health Organization for the treatment of certain types of epilepsy in developing countries.  In the developed world it is commonly used to treat seizures in young children, while other medications are generally used in older children and adults. Phenobarbital overdose may have serious effects

Mode of administration of Phenobarbital

It may be used intravenously, injected into a muscle, or taken by mouth. The injectable form may be used to treat single epileptic seizure lasting more than five minutes or two or more seizures within a five-minute period without the person returning to normal between them.

Phenobarbital is occasionally used to treat trouble sleeping, anxiety, and drug withdrawal and to help with surgery. It usually begins working within five minutes when used intravenously and half an hour when administered orally. Its effects last for between four hours and two days

Signs of phenobarbital overdose

Phenobarbital causes a depression of the body’s systems, mainly the central and peripheral nervous systems. Thus, the main characteristic of phenobarbital overdose include

  • Slowing of bodily functions, including decreased consciousness (even coma),
  • Hypothermia,
  • Hypotension (in massive overdoses).
  • pulmonary edema and acute renal failure as a result of shock,



What to do in case of Phenobarbital Overdose

Depending on how much time has elapsed since ingestion of the drug, this may be accomplished through gastric lavage (stomach pumping) or use of activated charcoal. Hemodialysis is effective in removing phenobarbital from the body, and may reduce its half-life by up to 90%.

Is there an antidote for Phenobarbital overdose?

No specific antidote for barbiturate poisoning is available according to the world health Organization.

Things to put in place before taking Phenobarbital

  • This medication may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert.
  • Drinking alcohol can increase some of the side effects of phenobarbital.
  • Do not use phenobarbital if you are pregnant.

Never share phenobarbital with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction.

When is the right time to administer Phenobarbital?

Phenobarbital may be taken once or twice a day.

  • Once a day: This is usually in the evening.
  • Twice a day: This should be once in the morning and once in the evening. Ideally, these times are 10–12 hours apart, for example sometime between 7 and 8 am and between 7 and 8 pm.

What is phenobarbital available as?

  • Tablets: 15 mg, 30 mg, 60 mg; these tablets contain lactose
  • Liquid medicine (orange): 15 mg in 5 mL; this contains a high concentration of alcohol and is not suitable for children with epilepsy

Where I should keep phenobarbital?

  • Keep the medicine in a cupboard, away from heat and direct sunlight.
  • You may need to keep liquid medicine in the fridge – check the instructions on the bottle. Make sure that the medicine doesn’t freeze.
  • Make sure that children cannot see or reach the medicine.
  • Keep the medicine in the container it came in.

Is there anything else I need to know about phenobarbital?

Some other medicines used to treat epilepsy may affect how well phenobarbital works, or may cause side-effects