Topamax is primarily used to treat epilepsies and migraines. It usually works by reducing bursts of electrical activity within your brain. By doing so, it restores the normal balance of nerve activity. However, it does contain quite a list of side effects you need to be advised on beforehand, ranging from mild effects like stomachaches to severe effects like vision loss and glaucoma. While you can’t outright flush out Topamax from your system, you can aid the process by increasing your fibrous veggie intake and staying hydrated. If you feel the risks of taking Topamax are just not worth it, you can resort to alternatives under your doctor’s advice through psychotherapy or other medications. Ultimately the decision is up to you.
Topamax is a particular brand of medication known as Topiramate. It’s a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor medication that is used to treat a variety of severe medical conditions.
Just as with any other strong medication, precautions must be taken, and this is not a drug that should be prescribed to any person.
Children of young age, the elderly, and pregnant women should avoid taking this as they are in a more vulnerable physical state.
Studies have shown that taking Topamax during pregnancy puts your baby at a higher risk of developing birth defects.
So the most important message to get out of this is the consideration of the potential risks you might be facing with Topamax intake.
What is Topamax used for? What are the side effects of Topamax? Can you flush Topamax out of your system? Is Topamax worth taking, given its long list of mild and severe adverse effects? Are there alternatives for Topamax, or is it your only option?
What is Topamax used for?
Topamax is primarily used in treating epilepsies and in preventing migraines.
It’s also prescribed for various disorders like convulsive seizures, obsessive-compulsive disorder, essential tremors, binge eating disorder, and alcoholism.
It’s also sometimes prescribed for people suffering from anxiety and weight loss, although its effectiveness in those departments is not so much guaranteed.
Usually, when a medication is prescribed for a serious condition, serious side effects can also be part of the package.
This is where one might doubt whether the pros of Topamax may outweigh the cons.
What are the side effects of Topamax?
Despite the therapeutic effect of any medication, it’s always best to know the undesirable secondary effects that it might have beforehand.
The table below handles mild and severe side effects of Topamax so that you can evaluate what you’re signing up for.
|Mild side effects of Topamax||Serious side effects of Topamax|
|Stomachaches||Possible vision loss|
|Loss of appetite and loss of taste||Kidney stones|
|Diarrhea||Mood and personality changes|
|Speech and memory complications||Blood acidity|
|Weight loss||High body temperature|
|Sleepiness||High ammonia quantity in the body|
According to a 2005 study conducted, it was revealed that Topamax was generally well tolerated and that serious side effects were rare.
However, as it consists of high-risk side effects, most try to opt out of taking this medication.
While most side effects triggered by Topamax aren’t permanent yet, some can cause long-term effects if you don’t get yourself treated right away, such as vision complications leading to glaucoma.
Since these kinds of side effects are too serious to ignore, your doctor will likely put a stop to your Topamax intake.
Can you flush Topamax out of your system?
You can’t flush Topamax entirely out of your system at once.
Naturally, after you stop taking the drug, your body takes about 5 days to automatically flush it out of your system.
Since medication toxicity can cause adverse impacts to your body, like dizziness, fainting, and confusion, you shouldn’t have to sit still and wait for your body to gradually flush out the medication.
In such instances, you can take precautionary steps to help your body speed up the flushing-out process.
The list below will guide you.
- Hydrate yourself – This is important, especially when you’ve got a load of prescription pills to take for your illness. Drinking lots of water helps detoxify your body as it flushes out toxins, chemicals, and fats. 7 to 8 glasses of water are a must!
- Nutritious foods – Organically produced foods will do a lot of good to your body in the detoxifying process. For example, vegetables like wheatgrass and kale are excellent sources of fiber. At the same time, berries like strawberries and raspberries are antioxidants that will help boost your immune system, as proven by studies conducted by the US National Library of Medicine. You can also include chia seeds, cilantro, and parsley in your diet as it absorbs impurities along your intestines and disposes of them.
- Stay away from toxins – If you’re in dire need of flushing out Topamax from your body, it’s highly advised to refrain from smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. You should also stay away from coffee for a while as it can be a harmful toxin as well.
- Avoid stress – Being stressed out will only worsen the situation. It would greatly help to get a relaxing massage and communicate your feelings with family and friends to minimize stress.
Is Topamax worth taking?
Our discussion so far shows that while Topamax might be effective in treating its respective medical conditions, it poses a risk that should be communicated to you by your doctor before being prescribed.
A 2012 study by the US National Library of Medicine revealed that up to 10% of patients treated with Topamax might experience cognitive problems.
This is a serious matter to consider as cognitive complications can interfere with the essential tasks of your daily life.
Apart from the risk of such side effects, another aspect to think of is the withdrawal symptoms that come with Topamax treatment.
Stopping Topamax treatment abruptly is warned against by doctors, especially in epilepsy, as the sudden halt of medication could trigger or worsen seizures.
Therefore, Topamax has a recommended withdrawal timeline set up by doctors.
A 2015 observational study also revealed the possibility of gaining weight after discontinuation of Topamax for patients with migraines.
Alternatives to Topamax
Topamax alternatives depend on the underlying medical condition you have.
The list below handles such illnesses and the respective alternatives you could opt for. Remember that you shouldn’t change your prescription without express consent from your doctor.
- Migraines – You can use a variety of over-the-counter pills such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Other medications, such as opioids and Lasmiditan, can also be considered.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – Alternative OCD medications include antidepressants like sertraline, paroxetine, and fluoxetine. A 2012 study also revealed that psychological therapy for OCD in both adults and children is backed up by numerous clinical trials.
- Depression – If you feel like Topamax isn’t worth the risk, you have various options, like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and tricyclic antidepressants. Your doctor will help you find the proper medication for your depression based on personal evaluation reports.
- Anxiety – If you’re uncomfortable taking any medication for anxiety, you can always resort to psychotherapy. If not, you can use alternative medications to Topamax, like benzodiazepines and buspirone.
Can Topamax cause permanent brain damage?
In a 2012 open study, significant cognitive deterioration was observed among 70% of patients at 3 months, lasting 12 months in about 20% of patients with Topamax intake.
It’s clear that temporary brain damage can be caused. However, its permanency may depend on other factors such as dosage and continuous use.
What kind of personality changes can you expect from Topamax?
Personality and mood changes are serious side effects of Topamax.
Changes that you can expect are sudden feelings of agitation and aggression, anxiety, depression, and in rare instances, even suicidal thoughts.
What should you avoid while taking Topamax?
Since Topamax can create kidney stones, you should drink plenty of fluids to decrease your chances.
Avoiding driving and operating machinery is also important as dizziness, blurred vision, and impaired thinking are possible symptoms too.
Similarly, stay away from dangerous sports and activities like swimming and mountain climbing for the same reasons.
Now that you have an idea of the various mild and severe side effect risks that Topamax carries and medical studies that show possible harms of Topamax, it’s entirely up to you to decide whether this medication is worth taking.
You can always discuss the possibility of experiencing adverse effects and come up with an alternative prescription with your doctor if you’re uncomfortable taking Topamax.
However, if your medical condition is quite severe and you’re in dire need of treatment, Topamax might be the better option as long as you can cope with its mild side effects.
Either way, it’s up to you to balance the scales and make a proper decision with the guidance of your doctor.