Topamax Weight Loss: The Pros and Cons, And Amazing Facts
Topamax is a prescription medicine containing the key ingredient topiramate. It is a pharmaceutical drug. Topamax is an FDA-approved medication mainly for treating certain seizures and preventing frequent migraines. Topamax is also prescribed to patients with epilepsy and other certain medical conditions. But if you’re reading this article, you probably want to know if Topamax is useful for weight loss. The answer is yes. Topamax is an effective medication to cause weight loss. But it is not for everyone. Topamax is not directly approved for weight loss. Topamax for weight loss is mainly prescribed to people dealing with obesity or eating disorders. The off-label use of Topamax is legal only if a doctor prescribes it. Topamax has brought life-changing results to many.
But how do you know if Topamax is the right medication for your weight loss? Before talking to your doctor, consider going through this article as we talk about the safety, dosage, and side effects of taking Topamax for weight loss.
What is Topamax?
The name Topamax comes from its key ingredient, topiramate. Topamax is a type of anticonvulsant. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved topiramate to treat certain migraines and epilepsy, especially with seizures. Topamax is the name of the brand that sells topiramate for pharmaceutical use. However, Topamax is still taken for weight loss upon doctor’s advice. To further elaborate, Topamax is mainly recommended to people with obesity or people suffering from severe eating disorders who need to lose weight to avoid potential health risks. Obese patients who are also suffering from seizures and migraines may take Topamax as they can benefit from the extra loss in weight.
Though Topamax is not a firsthand treatment for weight loss, it helps to reduce daily appetite. As the appetite decreases, one does not gravitate towards overconsumption of food like before. As a result, significant weight loss occurs through a reduced diet.
More on this is discussed in our next point.
How Does Topamax Work for Weight Loss?
Experts think that the topiramate in Topamax helps to mitigate unusual excitement or overstimulation in the brain, which includes the craving for food. As the craving subsides, the patient experiences a decrease in appetite. As a result, the patient eats less and more controlled and ultimately experiences significant weight loss.
Why Topamax We Use For?
Topamax is Mainly Used for Weight Loss Under Two Types of Medical Conditions:
1. Bulimia nervosa: A condition where one eats in bulks and then tries to get rid of the intaken extra calories by purging or vomiting.
2. Binge-eating disorders: A tendency to overeat with no control at one go.
Bulimia nervosa and Binge-eating disorders are problems that stem from excess eating. So their treatments require a minimized and regulated eating habit. While Topamax does not directly burn fat, it helps combat the disorders by reducing the sensation of appetite and promoting controlled eating. Thus, Topamax causes significant weight loss through reduced appetite. Topamax is also useful to battle alcohol and cigarette addiction.
After reviewing medical trials, the AHQR (Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality) concluded topiramate to control binging effectively, obsession with body weight, anxiety, and food preoccupation (generally caused by dieting), and dissatisfaction with one’s body among patients with Bulimia nervosa. They also stated that topiramate helps reduce eating and weight-related compulsion and obsessions. Moreover, topiramate cuts down the frequency of binging in patients with Binge-eating disorders. According to them, topiramate is better active than placebos at weight loss.
A 2007 study involving 73 obese binge eaters also showed the efficiency of topiramate at producing a better result than placebos. They were asked to take either topiramate or placebo in addition to receiving cognitive behavioral therapy, which is a necessary treatment for any kind of eating disorder. The group that took topiramate with CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) showed better weight loss and self-control at binging. To know further on the issue, visit this site.
But such trials have been small-scaled. People with a case of psychiatric problems or other medical conditions were altogether excluded from the trials due to the potential side effects. There are also cases of withdrawal of some participants from the trials who faced side effects (There’s more on this later), So it is challenging to derive one safe conclusion for everybody. And that’s why seeking professional help before taking Topamax or topiramate medication is indispensable.
How to Take Topamax for Weight Loss?
Before learning how to take Topamax for weight loss, it is vital to know the strengths of the medicine. Topamax is available in two forms –
1. A Swallowable Tablet – It comes in strengths of 25mg, 50mg, 100mg, and 200mg.
2. A Sprinkle Capsule – It was initially available in strengths of 15mg and 25mg. But newer capsules also come in 100mg, 150mg, and 250mg.
How to Take the Topamax
1. The first step is to read the label thoroughly. The method, dosage, and other necessary information are on the label. Do not increase or decrease the dose or number of doses of Topamax per day unless recommended by your doctor.
2. Talk to your doctor before starting the medication on Topamax, especially if you want to lose weight, as it is not an approved weight loss treatment. Follow the doctor’s prescription. Yes, you should read the label, but seeing a doctor is a must to discuss side effects and other risks. The doctor must determine the overall suitability of your body to take Topamax for weight loss.
3. If you take the tablet form, swallow the tablet at once. Do not chew, break, or suck on the tablet. It contains a bitter aftertaste. If you have swallowing problems, talk to your doctor.
4. If you take the sprinkle capsule, you can either swallow it whole or break it open. If you break open the capsule, sprinkle its contents on a spoonful of applesauce or any such soft food. The capsule is usually recommended if swallowing causes trouble.
5. You can take Topamax with or without food, depending on the form of Topamax you take. Follow your doctor’s advice on it.
6. If you miss a dose, only take the missed dose if there’s plenty of time before the next dose. Do not take the missed dose if it is almost time for the next one. Typically it is better to take a missed dose if there are more than six hours before the next dose. Otherwise, it is better to skip the missed one.
7. It is always good to maintain a balanced and nutritious diet to speed up the weight loss process and take Topamax. You can talk to your doctor about a low-calorie food regimen and follow that. Avoid dehydration to prevent kidney stones or other kidney-related diseases. A regular workout is also encouraged, even if it has light exercises only because a little goes a long way.
8. Last but not least, inform your doctor if any side effects occur. Have regular checkups with your doctor while on the treatment.
Dosage of Topamax for weight loss
You can take Topamax in any of its two forms. Best to let your doctor decide which. The most commonly used dosage is the 25mg Topamax taken once or twice a day. The number of doses varies from person to person. For some people, 25mg of Topamax is enough for weight loss, while for others, 50mg is enough for weight loss. Again, for some 25mg of Topamax once is enough, while others require 25mg twice a day to get their desired weight loss. The dosage depends on various factors, like the patient’s current body weight and other health problems.
To determine the proper dosage, you have to consider several things. First of all, talk to your doctor because Topamax shows serious side effects on some patients. So, taking just any Topamax dosage based on assumption can be too dangerous for one’s health.
Talk to the doctor about all the aspects of your obesity or eating disorders to evaluate your body’s overall acceptability of the dosage. It is also vital to discuss the history of other medical conditions you have or have had, like any disease in the liver, kidney, or bones, menstrual irregularities in women, or pregnancy. The medications you may be taking to treat these conditions or any other problems need to be discussed.
After considering everything mentioned above, the doctor will prescribe you the proper dosage of Topamax for weight loss. The dosage will also be dependent on factors like
- The condition under which you’re taking the Topamax medication
The Best Time to Take Topamax for Weight Loss
There is no best time of the day to take Topamax. If you take Topamax once a day, you can take it in the morning, evening, or before bed. Or you can take one dose in the morning and the other before bed (ensuring a long time gap between the turns) in case you’re taking Topamax twice. Follow the dosage and timings as prescribed by your doctor.
Is It Safe to Take Topamax for Weight Loss?
Topamax functions differently on different people. The safety of Topamax depends on various health factors of the patient that takes it. That is why it is not safe for all. Yet, it is safe to take Topamax for weight loss upon doctor’s advice.
One study on weight loss by Topamax showed that 66% of the participating Topamax or topiramate users experienced a positive result with no side effects, while 16% reported negative aftermath. The patients with positive results include long and short-term Topamax users for weight loss who have achieved notable weight loss through Topamax intake.
Again, according to the APA (American Psychiatric Association), topiramate is a successful drug to treat Bulimia nervosa. For binge-eaters, topiramate’s use is fruitful in binge reduction and promoting weight loss. But normal or low bodyweight bulimic patients may face side effects that raise concerns. In normal-weight female bulimic patients, topiramate is recommended only if they have a healthy menstrual cycle. Such patients must consider topiramate as their last resort because the lurking side effects are too dangerous to ignore. The same goes for the binge-eaters. You will get more on the APA guidelines.
But Topamax or topiramate is straight out hazardous for pregnant women as it causes adverse effects on the pregnancy. Topamax also defects birth control and may result in an unwanted pregnancy. Sometimes allergies develop after starting the medication. Under these conditions, it is not safe to take Topamax regardless of body weight.
Some conditions negatively impact the Topamax treatment. The pre-existence of these conditions will add to the side effects and cause greater damage than usual. It is highly unsafe to take Topamax for weight loss if you have or used to have-
- Glaucoma (an eye condition with vision loss)
- Metabolic Acidosis (a condition of high acidity in the blood)
- Liver or Kidney disease
- Osteoporosis (a brittle bone condition)
- Any mental disorders
What Are The Side Effects of Taking Topamax for Weight Loss?
Topamax for weight loss treatment comes with a bunch of high-risk side effects. While Topamax is effective for weight loss, it is not approved as mainstream is its life-threatening side effects. The most prominent side effects are
- Eye problems: Vision impairment occurs. If not treated timely, it may become permanent. Inform your doctor if you have any history of glaucoma during the treatment if you didn’t already.
- Cognitive problems: Cognitive or intellectual impairment involving disruption in attention, concentration, focus, thinking, memory, or speech is frequent (depending on the dosage). Increased confusion or sleepiness occurs too. It is better to avoid driving or any other heavy duties until the side effects are well treated.
- Tingling sensations: The most common type of side effect of Topamax for weight loss is a tingling feeling in the fingertips and feet.
- Decreased sweating: Body temperature rises fast and cannot cool down due to slow sweating. Avoid hot temperatures and drink plenty of liquids to prevent heatstroke.
- Kidney stones: Dehydration may lead to the development of kidney stones. Drink 6-8 glasses of water daily.
- Metabolic Acidosis(High acid level in blood): Increases the level of acidity in the blood. Ketogenic or ‘Keto’ diet during the Topamax medication is the main reason behind Acidosis. Can cause fatigue, irregular heartbeat, and impaired thinking. If not treated immediately, it may cause kidney or bone conditions.
- Menstrual irregularities: Irregularities in the menstrual cycle may occur. Do not neglect the problem. Consult the doctor immediately.
- Pregnancy and birth control-related problems: Topamax can cause birth defects in pregnancy. Reduction in birth-control effect happens due to drug interactions.
- Suicidal thoughts: One of the most threatening side effects of Topamax is suicidal thoughts accompanied by panic attacks, agitation, stress, or depression.
To Deal With the Side Effects
- Keep yourself hydrated by drinking at least 6-8 glasses of water per day. Avoid hot temperature.
- Do not drink alcohol.
- Inform your doctor if you have any history of glaucoma, cognitive problems of any sort, or kidney diseases.
- Avoid any high-fat, low-carb diet.
- Discuss the pregnancy, menstrual complications, and birth control-related problems with the doctor beforehand.
- Take Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or check in on a mental health professional if you have eating disorders.
- Contact the doctor as soon as a side effect(s) appears. Do not delay. Keep visiting the doctor for routine checkups and blood tests during the treatment.
- Reach out to your doctor or any other helpline if you experience suicidal thoughts or any serious mental distress.
The Bottom Line
Topamax can be great for weight loss. But it works for people with certain conditions only. If you’re a normal-weight person whose only goal is to shed some weight, then you should not consider Topamax. Talk to your doctor to get information on safer treatments for you. But, even if you meet the above-mentioned conditions and are considering taking Topamax for quick weight loss, consult a doctor first. Let the doctor examine your body’s eligibility to cope with the rapid changes and the wide range of side effects of Topamax.