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Phenobarbital Patient Information including How Should I Take

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking phenobarbital (Phenobarbital)?

Some people using this medicine have engaged in activity such as driving, eating, or making phone calls and later having no memory of the activity. If this happens to you, stop taking phenobarbital and talk with your doctor about another treatment for your sleep disorder.

You should not take this medication if you are allergic to phenobarbital or other barbiturates (Nembutal, Seconal, and others), or if you have:

  • porphyria;
  • severe liver disease;
  • a history of addiction to a barbiturate, sedative (Valium, Xanax, and others); or
  • severe asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), or other breathing disorder.

To make sure you can safely take phenobarbital, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:

  • temporary or chronic pain;
  • liver disease;
  • kidney disease;
  • pheochromocytoma (tumor of the adrenal gland);
  • a pituitary gland disorder;
  • a history of depression, mental illness, or suicide attempt; or
  • a history of drug or alcohol addiction.

Phenobarbital may be habit forming and should be used only by the person it was prescribed for. Never share phenobarbital with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction. Keep the medication in a place where others cannot get to it.

FDA pregnancy category D. Do not use phenobarbital if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Phenobarbital may also cause addiction or withdrawal symptoms in a newborn if the mother takes the medication during pregnancy. Use effective birth control, and tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment.

Phenobarbital can make birth control pills less effective. Ask your doctor about using a non-hormone method of birth control (such as a condom, diaphragm, spermicide) to prevent pregnancy while taking phenobarbital.

Phenobarbital can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How should I take phenobarbital (Phenobarbital)?

Take exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. Follow the directions on your prescription label.

Take this medicine with a full glass of water.

If you are taking this medicine to treat insomnia, take it only at bedtime. Do not use phenobarbital for longer than 2 weeks to treat insomnia, unless your doctor has told you to.

Take phenobarbital only when you are getting ready for several hours of sleep. You may fall asleep very quickly after taking the medicine.

Do not change your dose of phenobarbital without your doctor's advice. Tell your doctor if the medication does not seem to work as well in treating your condition.

If you are taking phenobarbital to treat seizures, keep taking the medication even if you feel fine. You may have increased seizures or withdrawal symptoms if you stop using phenobarbital suddenly. You will need to use less and less before you stop the medication completely.

If you use this medication long-term, your blood will need to be tested often. Visit your doctor regularly.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

Keep track of the amount of medicine used from each new bottle. Phenobarbital is a drug of abuse and you should be aware if anyone is using your medicine improperly or without a prescription.

Side Effects Centers

Phenobarbital - User Reviews

Phenobarbital User Reviews

Now you can gain knowledge and insight about a drug treatment with Patient Discussions.

Here is a collection of user reviews for the medication Phenobarbital sorted by most helpful. Patient Discussions FAQs

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration


You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.


Find tips and treatments to control seizures.