Health

15 Reasons Why Patients Say “Topamax Ruined My Life”

Topamax is a migraine medication that’s a godsend for some and a nightmare for many. Because of its numerous side effects, using Topamax can feel like you’re trading off one headache for another.

Is Topamax right for you?

In this article, we explore the pros and cons of the drug and review real-life examples of how Topamax may have ruined people’s lives.

What Is Topamax?

Topamax is a brand-name prescription medication of the active drug topiramate. It’s an FDA-approved anti-convulsant that people usually take every day.

Topamax comes in 25 mg, 50 mg, 100 mg, or 200 mg tablets. It also has a sprinkle capsule form you open and mix directly into your food. The sprinkle capsule has a smaller dosage of 15 mg and 25 mg.

Topamax Uses

Below are some of the reasons why people drink Topamax.

1. Seizures

Topamax is an epilepsy medication for adults and children two years old and above. It can treat partial-onset seizures, generalized tonic-clonic seizures, and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

Clinical studies show that 59% to 76% of patients didn’t experience seizures for a year while they were taking topiramate.

2. Migraine

Trials show that topiramate can reduce the frequency of migraine attacks within a month of usage. The medication works by calming the overactive nerve cells in people who experience migraine.

In this case, Topamax may be a treatment that can improve the quality of life of people suffering from migraines.

Off-Label Topamax Uses

Sometimes, patients may also use Topamax to treat the following conditions.

  • Chronic Pain: Topamax may be effective in fighting against chronic and neurological pain. In 2017, scientists discovered that topiramate can substitute gabapentin for treating pain.
  • Alcohol Use Disorder: Others may take Topamax to treat alcohol use disorder and lessen alcohol cravings. Yet, research shows that no evidence supports this claim.
  • Weight Loss: Topamax doesn’t have FDA approval for weight loss. However, because it can make you lose your appetite, some people take Topamax for this purpose.

15 Serious Topamax Side Effects

Unfortunately, Topamax has a long list of disadvantages that patients say ruin their lives. Below are some of its side effects.

1. Cognitive Impairment

Topiramate can slow your thinking and make it harder for you to find the right words. Your speech may slur. In addition, it can disrupt how you complete day-to-day tasks.

Up to 10% of patients taking this drug complain about its effects on their cognition.

2. Memory Loss

In 2020, doctors reported a rare case of drug-induced amnesia related to topiramate. A 25-year-old woman took 100 mg of topiramate daily for her migraine and began having amnesia episodes.

If this happens, you should become vigilant in recognizing the signs of memory loss. Fortunately, stopping the medication can reverse the effects.

3. Dissociative Disorder

Taking topiramate may lead to psychiatric side effects like dissociative disorder.

One such case happened in 2011 when a 21-year-old woman had episodes of dissociation after receiving Topamax.

4. Hyperthermia

Several studies prove that topiramate can cause hyperthermia. Hyperthermia is the increased body temperature in individuals.

The medication may cause you to sweat less, especially in hot weather.

In 2015, Topamax caused neurological dysfunction in children because of hyperthermia. It also induced severe heat strokes in adults while they were exercising.

5. Blood Imbalances

Topamax increases the ammonia in your blood, which can cause swelling in your brain. As a result, it may lead to vomiting, coordination problems, irritability, and even seizures.

What’s more, Topamax makes your blood more acidic. Metabolic acidosis, or the increasing acidity in blood, can change your heart rate and give you brain fog.

6. Skin Issues

Topamax can cause allergies and severe skin reactions in some people. The reactions may lead to peeling, blistered skin, body aches, and fever.

In 2017, a 35-year-old man developed a severe rash from drinking only 25 mg of Topamax a day.

7. Gastrointestinal Problems

Topamax can cause a wide range of gastrointestinal problems. Users complain about indigestion, abdominal pain, and diarrhea!

8. Stunted Growth

Topamax is a popular medication for treating epilepsy in children aged two years and above. Yet, even though it’s effective against seizures, Topamax may also cause stunted growth.

A 2013 study found that children who took Topamax had less growth than children who didn’t. The results showed that parents should monitor their kids if they’re taking Topamax for epilepsy.

9. Kidney Stones

Topiramate lowers the citrate excreting in your urine, increasing its pH. This can create an environment for kidney stones.

Doctors say that taking Topamax leads to the development of calcium phosphate stones. The process can start within just 30 days of starting the medication!

10. Sedation

Using Topamax can slow your body and mind’s reaction time. You can feel light-headed, tired, or develop double vision.

11. Loss of Appetite

People taking Topamax say they lose their appetite because of the medication. This decrease in appetite is why many who take Topamax lose weight.

Up to 9.7% of patients lost their baseline body weight after 60 weeks of using Topamax. You shouldn’t misuse Topamax since it’s not FDA-approved for weight loss!

12. Vision Problems

If you take Topamax, you have a 2% chance of developing glaucoma. Glaucoma is an eye disease that damages optic nerves, resulting in blindness.

You should know symptoms like sudden eye pain, blurred vision, hazy corneas, and red eyes. Immediately see an ophthalmologist if you feel any discomfort in your eyes.

13. Sexual Dysfunction

Those using Topamax have a 9% chance of getting a libido disorder. Women may suffer anorgasmia, while men develop erectile dysfunction while taking topiramate.

According to researchers, the effects begin after a month of taking the medication.

14. Depression

Like other anti-epileptic drugs, Topamax can cause mood swings, depression, and anxiety. It may raise the likelihood of the patient having self-destructive behaviors.

In one case, the topiramate caused suicidal thoughts in a 24-year-old woman after just two days of taking the drug!

15. Decreased Muscle Control

Taking topiramate may affect your muscle control and nervous system.

You may feel a tingling sensation in your hands and feet. In addition, muscle contraction becomes harder, causing tremors.

Patients with respiratory problems and muscle weakness should avoid taking Topamax.

topamax ruined my life

Mild Topamax Side Effects

Aside from the severe side effects, Topamax usage also causes nausea, sleepiness, dizziness, and fatigue.

Sometimes, you can have difficulty concentrating, headaches, and irritability. Moreover, food may taste differently, and you may experience hair loss.

How to Use Topamax Safely?

Because of the many side effects, following your doctor’s instructions when taking Topamax is essential.

Here are a few tips for using topiramate safely.

  • Be Honest With Medical Conditions: Tell your doctor if you have kidney or lung disease, allergies, or bleeding disorders. Let them know if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or undergoing mental struggles.
  • Follow the Prescription: Take the medicine as prescribed, and don’t stop it without getting advice from your doctor. You may have severe reactions if you go cold turkey on Topamax.
  • Start Small: When starting Topamax medications, start with a small dosage. Only increase your intake upon your doctor’s recommendation!
  • Proper Storage: Store your medication in a cold, dry place away from the reach of children. This medication is only for you, so you shouldn’t allow anyone else to take it.
  • Be Vocal: Let your doctor know if you’re experiencing any adverse effects. You may need a lower dose or explore alternative medicines.
  • Contact Paramedics: If you accidentally take too much Topamax, immediately contact a poison control center.

Topamax Interactions With Other Medications

Topamax may have interactions with other types of medications. You must seek medical advice before taking any new medicine.

Here are just some of the substances that may interact with Topamax.

  • Alcohol: People taking Topamax should avoid drinking alcohol. Alcohol can increase the severity of symptoms like confusion, respiratory depression, and coma.
  • Birth Control: Tomapax makes oral contraceptives more ineffective.
  • Central Nervous System Depressants: Worse side effects happen if you’re taking medication like Xanax and Benadryl. You should also avoid sleeping pills and opioid pain relievers.
  • Fever Medicine: Drugs like ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen increase your risk of side effects.

Should You Use Topamax?

Ultimately, you, as a patient, should decide if the side effects and risks of taking Topamax are worth it. Some people think that Topamax works for them, while others want to stop the medication after trying it.

If you experience side effects from Topamax, you should tell your doctor and seek alternative medicines if necessary.

Patient Reviews of Topamax

To better understand whether you should use Topamax, here’s a summary of the patients who’ve used it.

Positive Reviews

Topamax has a 3.6 out of 5-star rating on WebMD. These are some of the positive reviews.

  • Helps Racing Thoughts: Some users say Topamax calms their minds and stops them from overthinking.
  • Effective for Weight Loss: Patients like the side effect of having no appetite advantageous. They say the drug helps them manage their food intake.
  • Stops Alcohol Cravings: A few users say they were able to reassess their relationship with alcohol.
  • Minor Side Effects: Many users feel side effects like tingling hands and losing concentration. However, they say the side effects are worth it.

Negative Reviews

Topamax has a 6/10 rating on drugs.com. Below are reasons why people say Topamax ruined their lives.

  • Bad Skin Reactions: Some say they experienced their skin peeling off.
  • Extreme Anxiety: A few users talk about crippling depression, anxiety, and hours of crying. They say Topamax is the worst medication ever because of the vertigo, irrational fears, and nausea.
  • Eye Issues: One user warned that Topamax increased the pressure in their eye, almost causing them to go blind.
  • Memory Problems: Some say they can’t find the right words while on medication. Topamax affects memories, and they feel the side effects outweigh the advantages.

Alternatives to Topamax

If you think Topamax isn’t for you, here are other medications you may explore.

  • Galcanezumab: Galcanezumab is a prescription injectable drug that’s cheaper than Topamax. You only need one dosage a month to treat migraines.
  • Phentermine: Phentermine is a prescription drug that can replace Topamax for weight loss. Most of its side effects don’t require medical attention and go away alone.
  • Phenobarbital: Phenobarbital is a medication that increases GABA activity in your brain. It’s inexpensive and effective for treating epilepsy.

FAQs

How Long Does Topamax Stay In Your System?

Topamax can stay in your system for four to five days after your last dose. The exact time depends on your metabolism, dosage, and other medications.

Is Topamax Addictive?

No, Topamax isn’t an addictive medication. Still, you have to follow guidelines when you’re stopping the drug.

Your brain and body may not be used to the absence of Topamax, causing seizures if you suddenly stop. It would be best if you got guidance from your doctor for weaning off of Topamax.

Is Topamax Safe for Pregnant Women?

No. Topamax isn’t safe for pregnant women. Being exposed to Topamax may cause malformations and neurodevelopmental disorders in the fetus.

What Are the Long-Term Effects of Topamax?

The long-term effects of Topamax differ depending on the individual.

A few develop worse symptoms like blindness and memory loss. Meanwhile, others say their symptoms disappear after some time.

Conclusion

Can Topamax ruin your life? The short answer is it depends. Based on patient reviews, many say this medication destroyed their lives. On the other hand, others think the side effects are mild and worth it.

Beware of using Topamax if you have mental illness, kidney problems, and lung conditions. Avoid it if you’re pregnant, and contact your doctor as soon as you notice a severe side effect!

Ruthie H. Adams

I embrace life with joy, seeking the sparkle in ordinary moments. Despite being far from a success story, we can still live fabulously.
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