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The generic name is Phenobarbital.
Brand names: Solfoton, Luminal, Sezaby
Dosage forms: oral elixir (20 mg/5 mL), oral tablet (100 mg; 15 mg; 16.2 mg; 30 mg; 32.4 mg; 60 mg; 64.8 mg; 97.2 mg)
Drug classes: Barbiturate anticonvulsants, Barbiturates

What is Phenobarbital?

Phenobarbital is barbiturate (bar-BIT-chur-ate). Phenobarbital reduces the brain's activity and the nervous system. Phenobarbital is a medication used to treat or stop seizures. Phenobarbital can also be used for short-term use as a sedative that helps to relax. Phenobarbital is also used for reasons not mentioned in this guideline for medication.

Side effects of Phenobarbital 

Phenobarbital could cause an extreme allergic reaction. Stop taking phenobarbital and seek medical attention immediately when you notice symptoms that indicate an allergy reaction, like hives or trouble breathing or swelling of your eyes, face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Phenobarbital may cause serious side effects. Consult your physician right away if you experience:

  • Breath that is weak or shallow;
  • Uncharacteristic pain in any part of your body (especially in your neck or shoulder);
  • A red blood cell disorder is characterized by a pale complexion, weakness of muscles, vomiting, weight loss, rapid heart rate, the tongue becoming swollen or numb, or sensations of tingling in your hands and feet and feeling short of breath.
  • Severe skin reaction: fever, sore throat, swelling of your tongue or face, burning eyes, pain in the skin that is followed by the appearance of a purple or red skin rash that spreads (especially on the face or the upper part of the body) and leads to blisters and peeling.

The effects of side effects like confusion, depression, or excitement are more prevalent in older adults or those who are sick or disabled.

Common adverse effects of phenobarbital could include:

  • Drowsiness or fatigue
  • Spin sensation or dizziness;
  • Depression;
  • Experiencing a sense of excitement or anxiety (especially for children or older adults);
  • Drunken feeling; or
  • "hangover" result (drowsiness the next day following taking phenobarbital)

This isn't an exhaustive list of possible side effects, and other side effects could occur. Consult your physician to seek medical advice on the effects. You can report any adverse reactions to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Similar or related drugs

Sympazan, Trazadone, Hydroxyzine, Lorazepam, Diazepam, Topiramate, and Ativan


It is not recommended to use phenobarbital in the case of an extremely severe liver disease, extreme asthma, COPD, an individual or family background of porphyria, or an addiction history to drugs that are similar to phenobarbital.

Prior to use this drug

It is not recommended to take phenobarbital when you are allergic to the phenobarbital compound or any different barbiturates (Nembutal, Seconal, and many others) or suffer from:

  • Extreme asthma, chronic obstructive respiratory disorder (COPD), or another breathing disorder.
  • A family or personal background or family history of the disorder porphyria (a genetic disorder of enzymes that can cause symptoms that affect the nervous system and skin);
  • Severe liver disease severe liver disease
  • An addiction history to phenobarbital and similar medications (Valium, Xanax, Ativan, and more).

To ensure that phenobarbital is appropriate for you, consult your physician if you suffer from:

  • Liver disease;
  • Temporary or chronic discomfort;
  • A pituitary gland disorder
  • Pheochromocytoma (a tumor in the adrenal gland);
  • Kidney disease;
  • Medication or food; an allergy to a food or drug;
  • A condition that requires you to be prescribed a blood thinner (warfarin, coumadin, jantoven)

Follow your doctor's advice on the use of seizure medications if you are expecting. Controlling seizures is vital during pregnancy, and seizures could be detrimental to the mother and the baby. Do not begin and stop using this medication without consulting your doctor, and inform your doctor as soon as you find yourself pregnant.

Phenobarbital can make the birth control pill less efficient. Consult your physician about an alternative to hormonal birth control (condom diaphragm, diaphragm containing diaphragm, or spermicide) to stop pregnancy.

It is unclear if the phenobarbital is absorbed into breast milk or if it is harmful to the nursing infant. Consult your physician if you are breastfeeding a child.

How to take Phenobarbital?

Follow the directions on the prescription label. Do not take this medication in greater or lesser quantities or for longer than the recommended time. Phenobarbital could be a trigger for addiction. Do not share phenobarbital with a person, especially those who have a history of substance abuse or dependency. Keep the medication in a location where other people aren't able to access it. The act of selling or giving away this medication is against the law.

Do not alter the dose of phenobarbital without a doctor's recommendation. Inform your doctor if the medication does not appear to be working as effectively for treating your ailment. If you're using phenobarbital to treat epileptic seizures, keep taking the medication even if you feel good.

Do not abruptly stop taking the medication following prolonged use, or you could experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Consult your physician about how to stop taking phenobarbital in a safe manner. Keep at room temperature, free of heat, moisture, and light.

Be aware of the dosage of medication consumed from each bottle. Phenobarbital can be a drug of abuse, and you should be aware of anyone taking your medication improperly or without having a prescription.

What happens if I miss the dose?

Do the missed dose as quickly as you can remember. Avoid your missed dosage if it's nearing the time for the next dose. Don't take any extra medication to make up for the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

For medical emergencies, seek emergency treatment or contact the Poison Help Line at 1-800-222-1222. A phenobarbital overdose could be fatal.

The symptoms of an overdose can include slow or shallow breathing, a weak pulse, chills or dry skin, little or no urination, sharp eyes, feeling chilled, and feeling faint.

What should be avoided?

Phenobarbital and alcohol can result in adverse effects.

The medication could affect your reactions or thinking. Be cautious if you drive or engage in any activity that requires you to be vigilant.

Interaction with other drugs

Doing this maedicine in conjunction with other medications that make you sleepy or cause breathing problems could cause serious or life-threatening adverse effects. Ask your doctor prior to taking phenobarbital in combination with a sleeping pill, narcotic pain medicine, muscle relaxer, or any other medication to treat anxiety, depression, seizures, or depression.

Other drugs can interfere with phenobarbital. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Inform your health professionals about the medicines you are taking currently and all medicines that you decide to stop or change your use of.