Orlistat (Oral)

The primary usage of orlistat is as part of a weight loss program that includes regular exercise and a healthy diet, so as to shed unwanted pounds and prevent them from returning.

Overview

Available as a prescription medication, orlistat comes in capsule form, and is prescribed by doctors for patients who need to lose weight, but along with the medication, there must also be good eating habits and regular exercise, or the medication will not be as effective as it should be. Generally speaking, only obese patients or those who have medical conditions related to their weight are recommended for using orlistat, and even so, the medication must be part of a holistic program that addresses calorie intake as well as calorie burning through exercise.

It is extremely important for patients in this category to lose weight, since it reduces the chances of heart-related problems, diabetes, blood pressure which is excessively high, and even the threat of a shorter lifespan.

The way orlistat works is to block the enzyme in the body which normally breaks down fats so that they can be absorbed. Since fats don't get broken down and absorbed when orlistat blocks the process, the undigested fats are simply evacuated by the bowels without being digested for usage. Orlistat has no effect on other foods which are not in the category of fats, so all other foods eaten while you are being treated with orlistat must be self-managed, and ingested in lower quantities, in order for there to be a significant calorie reduction.

Any patient using orlistat is strongly encouraged to read the information insert provided with the medication, so that you can follow the recommended guidelines and achieve optimal weight loss safely. If you skip a meal entirely, or if you know that there are no fats contained in the meal you are eating, you can skip taking orlistat, since it will have no effect on the other foods you eat. As your information guide will point out, you should spread out your total calories for a given day evenly between fats, carbohydrates, and protein.

You should not use orlistat for a longer period of time than your doctor has recommended, and you should not take any more of it than your regularly scheduled dosageĀ ' you will not achieve results any faster simply by taking more of the medication. If you don't see significant results within two weeks of beginning treatment with orlistat, you should consult with your doctor about alternative strategies.

Condition Treated

Type Of Medicine

  • Fat-blocker (for weight loss)

Side Effects

In addition to the beneficial effects of helping a patient to lose weight, orlistat may also impart some unwanted side effects to some patients. While it's true that, in some cases, the side effects can be fairly severe in nature and may even require medical attention, these kinds of situations are extremely rare, and it is much more likely that a patient will experience either mild side effects or none at all.

One of the most significant side effects to be on the alert for is an allergic reaction. Some of the symptoms experienced during an allergic reaction can become so severe that they become life-threatening, so if you suspect that you are undergoing an allergic reaction, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Those side effects which generally accompany an allergic reaction are the following:

  • Tightness of the chest, often accompanied by severe difficulty with breathing
  • Extreme swelling or puffiness around the eyelids, or in the tongue, lips, and throat
  • Itchiness all around the body
  • Hives and/or rashes appearing in skin surfaces
  • A feeling of lightheadedness or dizziness, as though you are about to pass out.

The side effects listed in the group below occur much more frequently with patients than any of the more severe side effects which are possible. If any of these become extremely uncomfortable for you, you should seek advice from your doctor about some kind of medical treatment for them:

  • Difficulty with sleeping
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Unusual weakness or tiredness
  • Profuse sweating
  • Unusually sore throat
  • Persistent sneezing
  • Trembling or shivering
  • Runny nose or stuffy nose
  • Muscle pains and aches
  • Hoarseness or loss of voice
  • Nasal congestion
  • Loss of appetite
  • General feeling of discomfort or illness
  • Pain in the bladder
  • Fevers and/or chills
  • Congestion in the ears
  • Difficulty with breathing, even without any significant exertion
  • Diarrhea
  • Coughs
  • Chills
  • Body aches
  • Chest tightness
  • Problems with teeth or gums
  • Wheezing
  • Bloody or cloudy urine
  • Changes to your hearing
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Earaches
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Painful urination
  • Urinating more frequently than normal
  • Increased urgency when urinating
  • Difficulty with swallowing
  • Skin blisters
  • Swelling of the eyelids, hands, feet, face, or lips
  • Yellowish tinge to the skin or around the eyes
  • Pain in the abdomen or stomach
  • Shortness of breath
  • Redness of the skin
  • Rashes or hives
  • Pain in the ears
  • Extremely noisy breathing
  • Pale colored stools
  • Stiffness, swelling, or pain in the joints
  • Extreme itchiness
  • Irritation or agitation
  • Hives which are unusually large and appearing on the feet, lips, throat, legs, hands, eyelids, lips, or sex organs
  • Uncharacteristic anxiety
  • A sensation of bloating or fullness
  • Cold sweats
  • Blurry vision or other changes to vision
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Constipation
  • Coma
  • Depression
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Nightmares
  • Extreme nervousness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hoarseness or huskiness in the voice
  • Increased hunger
  • Indigestion
  • Loss of hair
  • Dry hair and skin
  • Muscle stiffness and cramps anywhere on the body
  • Pains which start out in the abdomen, side or stomach, and then radiate toward your back
  • Difficulty with moving
  • Oily spotting of underclothes
  • Oily bowel movements
  • Incontinence
  • Excessive gas
  • Itching of the genitals or of the vagina
  • Changes in your menstrual cycle
  • Rectal discomfort or pain
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Thick white discharge from the vagina, either with a mild odor or no odor at all.

Dosage

While the actual dosage of this medication will probably be different for just about everyone, the way that your dosage level is determined by a doctor will be the same. In order to arrive at the optimal dosage for your own situation, a doctor will take into account several factors, including your present medical condition, how well your body tolerates the medication, the strength of the medicine itself, the number of times you take the medication each day, and the total duration of time that you have been using the drug.

The dosage level shown below is meant to be understood as a standard level of dosage and may be very different from what your doctor recommends for you personally.

  • For the treatment of obesity, an oral capsule containing 120 mg of medicine should be ingested three times daily, along with each of your meals that contain fat. If you're having a meal which contains no fat whatsoever, for instance an apple and a celery stalk, there is no point to taking orlistat with that meal, since there will be no fat for it to absorb.
  • Children who are 12 years old and younger must have a dosage level calculated by their family doctor since a standard dosage does not exist.

If you should miss a dosage of orlistat during the day, you should not double up on doses to catch up, since this will not achieve any better results than skipping the missed dosage. You should never take a greater amount of medication that your doctor has prescribed for you because an increased dosage will not help you lose weight any faster.

Do not share this medication with anyone else who is trying to lose weight, because their circumstances may be very different from your own, and it may cause more harm than good if they use your medication. By the same token, you should not use anyone else's prescription orlistat, because it will have been prescribed for that other person, and their circumstances are likely to be far different from yours.

Interactions

As with any kind of medication, there is always a possibility that orlistat may interact with other medications you are currently taking. Since this can result in reduced effectiveness of orlistat or that other medication, it's inadvisable to take both medications at the same time. It's also possible for an interaction between two drugs to impart adverse side effects to you the patient, because of the way their ingredients combine and affect your body.

To avoid the possibility of drug interactions, you should prepare a list of all medications you are currently using, including over-the-counter drugs, other prescription medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements, as well as the dosage levels of each one of these. Your doctor can review this list and make a determination on whether or not you should discontinue usage of any of your current medications, or if one or more of them should be taken in reduced dosages to prevent serious side effects.

You can also use this list you have compiled if you should ever have a need to visit a health care clinic or make an unplanned trip to an emergency room for treatment. Any doctor who reviews your medication list will be able to prescribe a program of treatment for you without incurring the risk of drug interactions.

Some of the medications which are most commonly checked for by doctors who suspect drug interactions are included on the list below. If you know that you are taking one of these drugs, you should make your doctor aware of that right away, so that an alternative strategy might be adopted, or so lower dosages of your medication can be taken.

  • Sertraline
  • Cetirizine
  • Omeprazole
  • Acetaminophen
  • Phentermine
  • Pregabalin
  • Raspberry
  • Alprazolam
  • Warfarin
  • Topamax
  • Levothyroxine
  • Cyanocobalamin
  • Ascerbic acid
  • Cholecalciferol
  • Fexofenadine
  • Zolpidem
  • Aspirin
  • Metformin
  • Atorvastatin
  • Furosemide
  • Lamotrigine
  • Clonazepam
  • Gabapentin
  • Fluoxetine
  • Duloxetine
  • Citalopram
  • Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Warnings

Any patient who is taking orlistat, or any pediatric patient who is taking orlistat, should be aware of several precautions that are associated with using the medication. Firstly, it's extremely important that you keep all appointments with your doctor, or that your child keeps all appointments made with the doctor, so that regular monitoring can take place of the drug's effectiveness, and whether adjustments need to be made in dosage levels. It's also possible that urine tests or blood tests might be needed in order to determine the presence of unwanted or unexpected substances in the blood.

It is not recommended that you use orlistat if you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant because there's a possibility that there may be some harm done to your unborn fetus. For that reason, it is advisable to use some method of birth control while you are undergoing a program of treatment which includes orlistat. If you suspect that you may have become pregnant while taking orlistat, you should notify your doctor right away and discuss the situation.

For diabetic patients, losing weight while being treated with orlistat is most likely to be a very beneficial development, and that may result in your doctor changing your oral diabetes medication or insulin levels.

There is a chance that using orlistat can trigger a severe medical condition called anaphylaxis which is an allergic reaction to the drug. If you suspect that you are having an allergic reaction, you should immediately seek medical attention before the symptoms become much worse. The symptoms to look for include itchiness, hives and/or rashes, tightening of the chest, swelling on the eyelids, lips, tongue, or throat, dizziness or disorientation, and extreme difficulty breathing.

You should stop using orlistat and consult with your doctor if you develop side effects that include tenderness in the upper abdomen or stomach, or if your stools become pale, urine becomes dark-colored, you experience a loss of appetite, you have persistent nausea and/or vomiting, you develop a yellowish tinge to the skin or around the eyes, or you experience excessive weakness or tiredness. All of these may be indicators of a potentially serious problem with your liver, and they warrant medical attention at the earliest opportunity.

Orlistat may also increase your risk of developing kidney stones, so you should be alert for the possibility of blood in the urine, sharp pains in the genitals or in the groin, or back pains just below the ribs. These are all indicators of kidney stones developing, and you should notify your doctor about them as soon as possible.

When you do experience weight loss after using orlistat, there's a possibility that you might develop gallstones, so you should be on the alert for severe stomach pains, generally accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

While you are being treated with orlistat, it is safest to not take any other over-the-counter medications or herbal supplements, unless your doctor has reviewed and approved any other medications you are currently taking.

Storage

The safest way to store orlistat is in a closed container, preferably the same container that it arrived in when you got it from your pharmacist. The location for storage should be a room which is kept at room temperature, away from extremes of heat, cold, moisture, or direct light. Any exposure to these elements may cause a degradation to the medicine itself, and that will generally result in a loss of effectiveness.

Orlistat should be kept well out of the reach of pets and any small children in the household, and if necessary it should be stored in a location that is too high for them to reach. It should not be kept in any of the weekly pill reminders which are sold because most of these have no locking mechanisms to prevent access.

If your medication expires, you should not use it, but should instead discard it according to proper disposal procedures. You can find out how to dispose of this medication properly from your doctor or pharmacist, and failing these sources of information, you can look it up on the FDA website for the safe disposal of medicines.

Summary

Orlistat is a medication commonly used in conjunction with a program of exercise and healthy eating so as to achieve significant weight loss. It is generally only prescribed for obese patients and those who have a weight problem which affects other medical conditions. It works by blocking the body's enzyme which normally breaks down fats and absorbs them into the body so that the fats are instead passed out by bowel movements. Orlistat must be taken at meal times or within one hour of having had a meal, except in cases where the meal itself contained no fat. Orlistat will not operate on any other kinds of foods except those containing fat, so it would have no effect on proteins or sugars.