What is Acetazolamide?
Acetazolamide is a prescriptional drug used to treat glaucoma (a condition where the pressure in your eye increases and may lead to a gradual loss of vision). It is also used for acute mountain sickness (a condition where breathing difficulty is experienced when a person climbs to high altitudes, generally above 10,000 feet/3048 meters). It is also used in combination with other medications to treat edema (excess retention of the fluid). Moreover, it is used to control seizures in a certain type of epilepsy.
What are the uses of Acetazolamide?
It is usually referred to as a water pill because it is used to remove excess fluid from the body (Edema). Acetazolamide is primarily used for the treatment of open-angle glaucoma.
Acetazolamide is also used for seizures (Petit Mal and unlocalized seizures).
Additionally, it is used in acute mountain sickness to reduce the duration and severity of symptoms, such as stomach upset, shortness of breath, drowsiness, dizziness, and fatigue. Acetazolamide is mainly used in the following conditions;
- Open-angle glaucoma
- Acute angle-closure glaucoma (when the fluid pressure inside your eye rises quickly)
- As an adjuvant in the treatment of edema
- Acute mountain sickness, also known as Altitude sickness
- Metabolic Alkalosis (pH of tissue is elevated beyond the normal range)
- Salicylate intoxication
- Congestive heart failure
- Idiopathic intracranial hypertension (increased pressure in the brain)
The medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your physician or pharmacist for detailed information.
How do you use Acetazolamide?
- Read the patient information leaflet if available from the pharmacist before you start taking Acetazolamide and reach on time you get your refill.
- Ask your queries to your doctor or pharmacist if you do not understand anything described on patient information leaflet.
- It is mainly available as a tablet to be taken orally with food, usually one to four times or as prescribed by your physician.
- Try to take this tablet daily at the same time.
- Do not use this medication less or more than prescribed by your doctor.
- Do not stop taking this medication abruptly without consulting your doctor.
- Drink plenty of fluids unless otherwise directed by your doctor
If You Miss the Dose.
- If you happen to miss a dose of Acetazolamide, take the missed dose as soon as you remember.
- However, if it is almost time for the next dose, do not take the missed dose and continue with your next scheduled dose.
- Do not take a double dose to compensate for the missed dose.
What are the side-effects and risks of Acetazolamide?
Like all other medications, Acetazolamide can cause side effects. Although it is unlikely to happen in everyone, it is important that you know what could be the possible side effects.
Common side effects (Less severity):
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach upset
Serious side effects: Please contact your physician immediately if you experience any of the below side effects;
- Numbness and tingling
- Blood in urine
- Painful urination
- Sore throat
- Unusual bleeding or bruising
- Lower back pain
- Blacking of stools
- Blood in stools
In extremely rare cases, you may experience skin rashes, including sensitivity to sunlight. Please contact and inform your doctor immediately.
This is not a complete list of side effects, and others may occur. Please consult your doctor to know more about other possible side effects.
Who should not take Acetazolamide?
You should not take Acetazolamide if you have the following conditions:
- Liver problems
- Severe kidney problems
- Chronic non congestive glaucoma
- Reduced function of the adrenal gland (Addison's disease)
- Low blood sodium levels and/or high blood potassium and chlorine levels
- Lung problems
Talk to your doctor before taking Acetazolamide if:
- You are taking any other medication, are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning a pregnancy.
- You are allergic to Acetazolamide or any other ingredients in the tablet
- You are allergic to any other medication.
- You are taking any other drugs, over-the-counter medicines, herbal products or nutritional supplements
Besides, certain medicines may interfere with Acetazolamide's working and thus might not be safe to take them together. Some of them are:
- Anticoagulants such as Warfarin
- Anti-diabetics such as metformin or gliclazide
- Anti-epileptics such as phenytoin, primidone or carbamazepine or topiramate
- Sodium bicarbonate therapy
This may not be a comprehensive list, and other drugs may interact with Acetazolamide. Please inform your doctor if you are taking any of the medicines listed above.
When should you not take Acetazolamide?
You should not take Acetazolamide if:
- It has passed the expiry date of the medicine printed on the pack.
- The packaging shows signs of tampering.
- Before surgery or dental surgery (at least 24 hrs prior).
This drug may make you dizzy or tired. Hence, consumption of alcohol or any sedative, marijuana (cannabis), tranquilizer, or sleep aid can cause more dizziness.
Further, Acetazolamide may alter your ability to drive or operate machines. It may make you feel dizzy, sick, or tired, and even give a headache. If you feel any of these effects, do not drive or operate machines and immediately contact your doctor.