Olanzapine is an atypical antipsychotic medication that is typically prescribed for patients with mental and mood disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression. Like most atypical antipsychotic medications, it works to correct the chemical imbalances that cause these conditions by blocking certain chemical receptors in the brain. For some of these conditions, there is a decrease in the number of hallucinations experienced. For others, it improves their mental clarity and allows them to function more completely in their day-to-day lives.
This medication is often combined with other drugs to treat conditions like bipolar disorder and depression more effectively.
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Over the course of treatment for your condition, it is possible that you may experience some side effects of (or adverse reactions to) the medication your doctor has given to you. The effects may be mild, medium, or severe, and some of them may be more common than others, but you should always talk to your doctor if you believe you are experiencing them.
Some of the more common side effects of this medication include, but are not limited to:
Some side effects are less common than others. A list of the less common side effects of olanzapine includes, but is not limited to:
If you believe you are experiencing any of the above effects, let your doctor know immediately.
In some cases, the side effects that occur with use of this medication are mild and may not require immediate attention. Most of the time, these effects will fade as your body adjusts to having the medicine in your system.
Side effects that usually mild / do not require immediate medical attention include, but are not limited to:
Make note of any adverse reactions you think you may be experiencing and share them with your doctor at your next visit. While these effects usually go away with prolonged use of this medication, there are times when this does not happen. If any of these side effects continue past when the time when the medicine should be taking full effect or worsen in severity, you should let your doctor know at your next visit. With this information, your doctor may be able to make recommendations for how to lessen your body's reaction to the medication, or stop these reactions completely. It is also possible they may adjust the amount of medication you are taking.
Whether you believe you are suffering from side effects for this medication or not, talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about it or what effects it can have on you while you are taking it.
In rare cases, the ingredients in olanzapine can trigger a severe allergic reaction (or anaphylactic shock) in some patients. If you feel like you are having an allergic reaction to this medication, you should call for emergency medication assistance as soon as possible. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction include, but are not limited to:
There is also the potential for a patient to overdose while taking this medication. If you believe someone has overdosed, call for emergency medical assistance right away. Signs of an overdose include:
While drug manufacturers will include general dosage information and instructions for how to take their medication, you should always follow the instructions given to you by your doctor for taking any medication they give to you to take. The manufacturers know what condition the medication is meant to treat and how much should be taken under certain conditions, but your doctor knows more about your specific medical history. With this knowledge, your doctor will be able to determine the best dosage to start you out at, and give you the correct instructions for taking it.
The manufacturers make the following recommend the following recommendations for taking olanzapine.
For adults taking olanzapine for schizophrenia, take one dose every day at around the same time, starting with an amount between 5 and 10 mg (as indicated by your doctor) and working up to 10 mg per day. After this, any dosage adjustments will be made on in weekly increments as your doctor assesses your progress. Some doses may be as high as 15 mg a day, but the maximum amount prescribed by any doctor for any patient is 20 mg per day.
For adolescents taking this medicine for schizophrenia, take one dose every day at around the same time, starting with an amount between 2.5 and 5 mg (as indicated by your doctor) and working up to 10 mg per day. After this, any dosage adjustments will be made on in weekly increments as your doctor assesses your progress.
The recommended maintenance treatment for all patients taking this medication for schizophrenia is 10 mg or the lowest possible dosage that is effective for the condition. Periodic assessments should take place to determine continued use.
For adults taking this medication for bipolar I disorder, take one dose every day at around the same time, starting with an amount between 10 and 15 mg (as indicated by your doctor), and going no higher than the maximum dosage of 20 mg. If it is prescribed in combination with lithium or valproate, the initial dose should be 10 mg.
For adolescents taking olanzapine for bipolar I disorder, take one dose every day at around the same time, starting with an amount between 2.5 and 5 mg (as indicated by your doctor) and working up to 10 mg per day.
The recommended maintenance treatment for all patients taking this medication for bipolar disorder is the lowest possible dosage that is effective for the condition. Periodic assessments should take place to determine the continued use of this medication.
Olanzapine can be taken with or without a meal, at any time of day, preferably with a full (8 oz) glass of water.
If you miss a dose of olanzapine, take it as soon as possible after realizing you have not taken it yet. However, if you do not realize that you missed it until it is close to time for the next dose, skip the dose you missed and take the next one at its normal time.
As with all medications, follow your doctor's directions exactly while using olanzapine. Do not take any more of it than instructed, and do not take any less than instructed. Do not double up doses.
Do not stop taking this medication unless instructed to do so by your doctor.
Olanzapine was designed to help patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression be able to think clearly, be less agitated, and be more present in their daily lives. It, like many medications, can be less effective when it comes into contact with other drugs or medical conditions a patient may have.
Certain types of drugs (both prescription and over-the-counter, or OTC) are more likely than others to have negative interactions with olanzapine. There are also some vitamins and nutritional supplements that can interact with this drug. The most common interactions are with:
While the most common interactions are listed above, there is a long list of drugs, vitamins and nutritional supplements that may have interactions with olanzapine. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions. Also, give your doctor a list of the drugs, vitamins and nutritional supplements you take on a regular basis to help them determine the risks as well as the benefits of putting you on this medication.
Either limit or else avoid any use of alcohol while taking olanzapine, as it is known to increase levels of dizziness and drowsiness, and make it more difficult to concentrate.
There may be other dietary and lifestyle choices that affect this medication's ability to work the way it is supposed to. Talk to your doctor about your diet and any daily habits that might have an effect on your overall medical condition (like drinking or smoking). If you have questions about anything you are doing, ask your doctor about those things as well.
There are more than a dozen medical conditions that are known to have negative interactions with olanzapine. The list of medical conditions includes:
There may be other medical conditions that are negatively affected by use of olanzapine. Share your full medical history with your doctor so they can better determine the risks and benefits of placing you on this medication.
Before you start taking olanzapine, be sure to tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it or anything else. Olanzapine contains inactive ingredients which may cause allergic reactions or other potential problems.
Tell your doctor about your medical history before you start taking this medication, especially if it includes liver problems, seizures, dementia, low white blood cell counts, glaucoma, stomach or intestinal disease. Also tell your doctor if you or anyone in your family has a history of medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, or obesity, as these conditions may be negatively affected by the use of olanzapine.
Do not drive, use machinery, or perform any other activity that requires you to be alert until you know that you can perform them safely while using this drug.
Before you have surgery or any other medical or dental procedure, tell the doctor or dentist in charge about everything you are taking (prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, or health supplements).
This medication can temporarily lower your white blood cell count and leave you more vulnerable to infections. Avoid people with infections as much as possible. If you believe you are developing an infection, or if you start experiencing symptoms like fever or chills, coughing, hoarseness, pain in your lower back or side, or difficult or painful urination, talk to your doctor immediately.
Olanzapine can make you sweat less often, which increases your risk of getting heat stroke. Avoid any activities that might cause you overheat - like strenuous work, exercise in hot weather, or using hot tubs. On days with hot weather, make sure to dress likely and drink plenty of extra fluids. If you feel like you are overheating, find a place to cool down and rest quickly. If you have a fever that will not go away, mental or mood changes, a headache, or dizziness, seek medical attention immediately.
This medication can increase your blood sugar levels. If you are feeling increasingly thirsty or are urinating more frequently, talk to your doctor immediately. This may be a sign of diabetes. If you already have diabetes and are taking this medication, you may experience changes in urine and blood sugar test results. Ask your doctor if you have any questions about this.
Olanzapine can also increase the level of lipids in your blood. If this happens, your doctor may have you start taking medications to lower those levels.
Weight gain is also an issue that can occur with use of this medication. You may need to have your doctor check your weight on a regular basis over the course of treatment.
Teenagers can be more sensitive to some of the side effects of this medication. They are especially prone to weight gain and increased cholesterol, triglyceride and prolactin levels.
Older adults may also be more sensitive to some of the side effects of this drug. They are especially prone to drowsiness, constipation, trouble with urinating, dizziness, confusion, and lightheadedness. Their risk of falling is increased by dizziness, confusion and lightheadedness.
Olanzapine can increase thoughts of suicide or self-harm. Tell your doctor immediately if you start feeling more depressed or if you have thoughts about hurting yourself. Also share if you find yourself having any unusual thoughts or behaving in troubling ways, especially if these thoughts or behaviors are new or worsening quickly. Tell your doctor if you start having trouble sleeping, get upset more easily, have large bursts of energy, or are acting recklessly. Also say something if you start having sudden or strong feelings of nervousness, anger, restlessness, violence, or fear. If you or someone in your family has bipolar disorder or has tried to commit suicide in the past, tell your doctor.
Do not stop taking this medication unless directed by your doctor, especially because untreated mental and mood disorders like schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder can be serious conditions.
While taking olanzapine, you are at greater risk of developing neuroleptic malignant syndrome. If you believe you are experiencing symptoms of it, contact your doctor immediately. Symptoms include convulsions or seizures, difficulty breathing, a high fever, rapid heartbeat, either low or high blood pressure, loss of bladder control, tiredness, severe muscle stiffness, and unusually pale skin.
Another condition that may occur while you are using this medication is a movement disorder called tardive dyskinesia. Contact your doctor immediately if you start experiencing symptoms. Symptoms of this condition include lip puckering or smacking, cheeks puffing out, uncontrolled chewing movements, rapid or worm-like movement of the tongue, and uncontrolled arm and leg movements.
If you are pregnant, think you might be pregnant, or are planning to become pregnant, talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of continuing to take olanzapine during your pregnancy. If this medication is used in the last three months of your pregnancy, there is a risk of your newborn baby developing symptoms like constant crying, drowsiness, feeding or breathing problems, or muscle stiffness or shakiness. Tell your baby's doctor right away if you see any of these symptoms.
If you are the mother of a newborn or infant and nursing, talk to your doctor about use of this medication while you are doing so. Olanzapine is excreted into breast milk and it is possible for your baby to be adversely affected by ingesting it.
While you are taking olanzapine, keep the medication stored at room temperature. Ideally, this is somewhere between the temperatures 60-86 degrees Fahrenheit or 15-20 degrees Celsius).
Do not leave this medicine sitting near sources of moisture, like a shower or sink in the bathroom.
Keep it away from sources of direct sunlight, like countertops that are situated underneath windows or on windowsills.
Store this drug in a tightly sealed container. Make sure the container is set in a place that is out of reach of both children and pets.
Once treatment with olanzapine is complete, or when the medication has expired, you will need to make plans to properly dispose of what is left. Do not hold onto extra doses or doses that are past their expiration date.
You should not dispose of this medicine by flushing it down the toilet. It should also not be discarded by pouring it down the sink.
Ask your doctor or your pharmacist if you have any questions about the correct way to dispose of this drug.
Olanzapine can be an extremely beneficial medication as part of a treatment plan for certain mental and mood disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and some instances of depression. However, there are definite and serious risks involved with the use of it. These risks are far more likely to occur when there are not clear and open lines of communication between a doctor and their patient.
There are many risks involved with taking this medication, ranging from gastrointestinal obstructive disorders, liver disease, and diabetes to neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS), seizures, and tardive dyskinesia. It can also leave patients vulnerable to conditions like heat stroke and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels).
For these and other reasons, patients taking olanzapine (or any medication) need to be open and honest with their doctors about their medical history and all relevant information they have about their family's medical history. They also need to share information about what medications and health supplements they are taking as well as their dietary habits and other lifestyle choices that have an effect on their health. With as many possible interactions as there are between this medication and other drugs and medical conditions, doctors need this information in order to help them create the best possible treatment plan for their patient's condition.
When this medication is taken correctly, it is an effective part of an overall treatment plan for patients with mental or mood disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression. As their mental clarity improves, they are better able to interact with the world around them and have an immeasurably better quality of life.
Olanzapine is used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and other nervous, mental and emotional conditions.