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Excerpt 2
James W. Jefferson, MD, John H. Greist, MD and David J. Katzelnick, MD

Oxcarbazepine & Bipolar Disorder: A Guide

(Excerpt 2)

Are blood tests necessary while taking oxcarbazepine? Under most circumstances, your doctor will not need to measure oxcarbazepine blood levels while you are taking the drug. At present, dose adjustments are based on a person�s clinical response and how well the medication is tolerated. Since therapeutic blood levels have not been established, measuring the amount of oxcarbazepine and its metabolite, MHD, in the blood provides little in the way of useful information (unless of course, a blood level were zero, which would mean the medicine is not being taken).

Depending on your particular situation, your doctor may want to measure the amount of sodium in your blood (a serum sodium level). This is especially true if you are taking another medication that may decrease sodium levels or if you are having symptoms suggestive of a low sodium level such as nausea, malaise, fatigue, headache, lethargy or confusion.

What preparation is needed if an oxcarbazepine blood test is ordered? Before an oxcarbazepine blood test, make sure no doses of oxcarbazepine have been forgotten and no extra doses taken in the last several days. The blood test should be done in the morning before the morning dose of the medication is taken. This will ensure that the test is reliable. Meals can be eaten on the day of the test, since food will not interfere with the test results. If a person has forgotten to take doses or has taken extra doses of oxcarbazepine during the several days before the blood test, the doctor should be notified and the blood test rescheduled. Otherwise the result could be misleading and might lead to incorrect dosage changes.