Potentially Serious Reactions to Lamictal

These side effects tend to be rare but dangerous

Unusual bruising may indicate a serious reaction to Lamictal
Unusual bruising may indicate a serious reaction to Lamictal. Libor TomA!A!tA-k/E+/Getty Images

Lamictal (lamotrigine) is an anticonvulsant drug that's often used as a mood stabilizer for bipolar disorder. The best-known serious reaction to Lamictal is developing a rash that might be permanently disfiguring or life-threatening. However, there are other potential reactions to Lamictal that are rarer than rashes but can be quite serious if they do occur.

Hypersensitivity Reactions to Lamictal

Lamictal can cause other types of allergic reactions or serious problems that may affect organs and other parts of your body, like the liver or blood cells.

You may or may not have a rash with these types of reactions.

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

These symptoms may be the first signs of a serious reaction. You don't have to have more than one of the symptoms listed above before you check with your doctor as soon as possible. A healthcare provider should examine you to decide whether you should continue taking Lamictal.

Acute Multiorgan Failure

The frequency of this reaction to Lamictal is not given in the prescribing information. There were deaths from the failure of multiple organs such as the liver in clinical trials of epilepsy patients (about 9.6 out of 10,000 for both children and adults), but none in clinical trials for bipolar disorder.

Blood Dyscrasias

This term refers broadly to blood diseases. Again, the frequency of this reaction to Lamictal is not given in the prescribing information. These are some specific blood diseases to look out for, including neutropenia, thrombocytopeniapancytopeniaaplastic anemia, and pure red cell aplasia.

Watch Out for Suicide Risk

Patients who are taking Lamictal for bipolar disorder, as well as their caregivers and families, should be alert for any symptoms that their depression is getting worse and/or suicidality. Patients who have a history of suicidal behaviors or thoughts, patients who have a high degree of suicidal ideation before starting treatment, and young adults have an increased risk of suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts, so careful monitoring is needed during treatment. Doctors should consider changing treatment, including possibly discontinuing Lamictal if depressive symptoms get worse, new symptoms occur, or suicidal thoughts or behaviors appear.

Aseptic Meningitis

Lamictal increases the risk of developing aseptic meningitis. Symptoms may include abdominal pain, abnormal sensitivity to light (photophobia), chills, confusion, drowsiness, fever, general discomfort, uneasiness, ill feeling (malaise), headache, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, rash, sore throat, and stiff neck. Symptoms have been reported to show up anywhere from one day to six to seven weeks of starting treatment with Lamictal. In most cases, discontinuing Lamictal took care of the symptoms, and patients who have had aseptic meningitis should not take Lamictal again.

Lamictal and Serious Reactions

It's critical to note that many people take Lamictal or the generic version (lamotrigine) without experiencing any dangerous side effects. The intent of this article is not to discourage anyone from taking Lamictal. Rather, it is to inform patients, their families and caregivers of the symptoms and dangers of potential problematic reactions to this drug.

​​Every prescription medication has side effects, however, knowing what they are enables you to recognize them as soon as possible.

Sources:

FDA Approved Label for Lamictal.

Lamictal Patient Information Guide.

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