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Luminal

Generic name: phenobarbital

What is Luminal used for?

  • Luminal is used to help control certain kinds of seizures.
  • It is used to treat anxiety.
  • Luminal is also used to treat sleep problems.
  • Luminal may be given to you for other reasons. Talk to your doctor.

Before taking Luminal, tell your doctor:

  • If you are allergic to Luminal; any part of this medicine; or any other drugs, foods, or substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had.
  • If you have any of these health problems: A block in the airway, liver disease, or shortness of breath.
  • If you have ever had porphyria.

This is not a list of all drugs or health problems that interact with this medicine.

Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of your drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins) and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe for you to take Luminal with all of your drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug without checking with your doctor.

What are some things I need to know or do while I take Luminal?

  • Tell all of your health care providers that you take Luminal. This includes your doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.
  • This medicine may be habit-forming with long-term use.
  • Do not stop taking Luminal all of a sudden without calling your doctor. You may have a greater risk of signs of withdrawal. If you need to stop Luminal, you will want to slowly stop it as ordered by your doctor.
  • If you have been taking Luminal for a long time or at high doses, it may not work as well and you may need higher doses to get the same effect. This is known as tolerance. Call your doctor if Luminal stops working well. Do not take more than ordered.
  • Have your blood work checked if you are on Luminal for a long time. Talk with your doctor.
  • Avoid driving and doing other tasks or actions that call for you to be alert until you see how Luminal affects you.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol while taking Luminal.
  • Talk with your doctor before you use other drugs and natural products that slow your actions.
  • If you are 65 or older, use Luminal with care. You could have more side effects.
  • Use with care in children. Talk with the doctor.
  • Do not give Luminal to a newborn. It has benzyl alcohol.
  • Birth control pills and other hormone-based birth control may not work as well to prevent pregnancy. Use 2 kinds of birth control while taking Luminal.
  • This medicine may cause harm to the unborn baby if you take it while you are pregnant. If you are pregnant or you get pregnant while taking Luminal, call your doctor right away.
  • Taking Luminal in the third trimester of pregnancy may lead to withdrawal in the newborn. Talk with the doctor.
  • Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding. You will need to talk about any risks to your baby.

How is Luminal best taken?

Use Luminal as ordered by your doctor. Read all information given to you. Follow all instructions closely.

  • It is given as a shot into a muscle or vein.

What do I do if I miss a dose?

  • Call your doctor to find out what to do.

What are the side effects of Luminal that I need to call my doctor about immediately?

WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:

For all uses of Luminal:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Mental, mood, or behavior changes that are new or worse.
  • Feeling confused.
  • Very nervous and excitable.
  • Restlessness.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Bone pain.
  • A very bad skin reaction (Stevens-Johnson syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis) may happen. It can cause very bad health problems that may not go away, and sometimes death. Get medical help right away if you have signs like red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin (with or without fever); red or irritated eyes; or sores in your mouth, throat, nose, or eyes.

For seizures:

  • If seizures are worse or not the same after starting Luminal.

What are some other side effects of Luminal?

All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:

  • Feeling sleepy.
  • Headache.
  • Upset stomach or throwing up.
  • Irritation where the shot is given.

These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-332-1088. You may also report side effects at https://www.fda.gov/medwatch.

If overdose is suspected:

If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

How do I store and/or throw out Luminal?

  • If you need to store Luminal at home, talk with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about how to store it.

Consumer information use and disclaimer

  • If your symptoms or health problems do not get better or if they become worse, call your doctor.
  • Do not share your drugs with others and do not take anyone else's drugs.
  • Keep all drugs in a safe place. Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Throw away unused or expired drugs. Do not flush down a toilet or pour down a drain unless you are told to do so. Check with your pharmacist if you have questions about the best way to throw out drugs. There may be drug take-back programs in your area.
  • Some drugs may have another patient information leaflet. Check with your pharmacist. If you have any questions about Luminal, please talk with your doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take Luminal or any other medicine. Only the healthcare provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for a specific patient. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to Luminal. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from the healthcare provider. You must talk with the healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

Source: Wolters Kluwer Health. Last updated June 19, 2020.