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  • Generic Name: (acetazolamide)
    Other Brands: N/A
  • Last Revised: 09/2014
    • What is this medication and its most common uses?

      Acetazolamide is a medication used to treat seizures, fluid retention due to congestive heart failure or other medications, or to lower pressure in the eye in people with open-angle glaucoma or high pressure in the eye. Acetazolamide is also used to prevent or relieve symptoms of acute mountain sickness in climbers attempting a rapid climb and those who feel sick even though they are making a gradual climb.

    • What should I know when beginning and continuing on this medication?

      How does this medication work?

      Seizures: Acetazolamide may help keep electrical signals balanced in the brain.

      Fluid retention: Acetazolamide is thought to work by promoting elimination of extra fluid, sodium (salt), and potassium from your body, thereby reducing fluid buildup.

      Glaucoma: Increased pressure in the eye and glaucoma can result when the fluid that flows through and nourishes the lens and cornea (the clear front part of the eye) cannot drain normally. Acetazolamide is thought to lower pressure in your eye by reducing the production of this fluid.

      What are the beneficial effects of this medication and when should I begin to have results?


      Fluid retention: By reducing the fluid buildup, acetazolamide may help with congestive heart failure or other conditions that may cause swelling.

      Glaucoma: By reducing the pressure in your eye, acetazolamide may help reduce the risk of developing glaucoma-related vision loss and nerve damage.

      Acute mountain sickness: Acetazolamide may decrease or relieve symptoms such as headache, nausea, shortness of breath, dizziness, or drowsiness, and improve sleeping habits.

      When: Everyone responds differently to treatment, so try to be patient and follow your healthcare provider's directions. It is important that you take acetazolamide exactly as your healthcare provider has prescribed.

      How do I know it is working?

      Your healthcare provider may examine your eyes, perform certain tests, or ask you questions from time to time to check how well this medication is working.

    • What are the possible side effects of this medication?

      The following is not a full list of side effects. Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, tell your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Only your healthcare provider can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking this medication.

      Acetazolamide may cause serious, life threatening reactions. These include life threatening skin disorders (such as Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis), liver failure, agranulocytosis (a blood disorder in which white blood cells are not made in adequate numbers or not made at all), and aplastic anemia (a blood disorder in which the body's bone marrow doesn't make enough new blood cells).

      More common side effects may include: tingling or numbness in your hands or feet, hearing problems or ringing in your ears, loss of appetite, change in your taste, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, increase in urination, drowsiness, confusion.

    • Who should not take this medication?

      Do not take acetazolamide if you are allergic to it or to any of its ingredients.

      Do not take acetazolamide if you have an acidic blood problem, low blood sodium or potassium levels, if you have kidney, liver, or adrenal gland problems, or if you have a specific type of glaucoma called chronic non-congestive angle-closure glaucoma.

    • What should I tell my healthcare provider before I take the first dose of this medication?

      Tell your healthcare provider about all prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal medications you are taking before beginning treatment with acetazolamide. Also, talk to your healthcare provider about your complete medical history, especially if you have emphysema (lung disease that causes shortness of breath) or other breathing problems, or if you take aspirin.

    • What is the usual dosage?

      The information below is based on the dosage guidelines your healthcare provider uses. Depending on your condition and medical history, your healthcare provider may prescribe a different regimen. Do not change the dosage or stop taking your medication without your healthcare provider's approval.

      Adults: Your healthcare provider will prescribe the appropriate dose for you based on your condition.

    • How should I take this medication?

      Take acetazolamide exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider.

      If you are taking acetazolamide for mountain sickness, you must still come down promptly if you show signs of severe mountain sickness.

    • What should I avoid while taking this medication?

      Do not change your dose or stop taking acetazolamide without first talking to your healthcare provider.

    • What are the possible food and drug interactions associated with this medication?

      No significant interactions have been reported with acetazolamide at this time. However, always tell your healthcare provider about any medicines you take, including over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

    • May I receive this medication if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

      The effects of acetazolamide during pregnancy are unknown. Do not breastfeed while you are taking acetazolamide. Tell your healthcare provider immediately if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

    • What should I do if I miss a dose of this medication?

      If you miss a dose of acetazolamide, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the one you missed and return to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take two doses at once.

    • How should I store this medication?

      Store at room temperature.

    • Who should I contact in case of emergency or overdose?
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      In the event of a medical emergency call your doctor or 9-1-1 immediately. In the event of overdose, call your doctor or poison control for further instructions.
      National Poison Control#: Call 1-800-222-1222

      This PDR+ drug information has been developed by the Physicians’ Desk Reference Network (PDRN), a source of medication information trusted by doctors for over 65 years.

      This monograph summarizes the most important information about your medication and does not cover all the information you may need. If you have any questions or concerns or want to learn more about your medication, ask your healthcare provider; he/she will be able to provide answers to your questions. This medication should only be used by the patient for whom it was prescribed and should not be shared with other people.
    • Additional patient resources.
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