In this session, we will be discussing the consumer medication information for olanzapine, trade name ZyprexaTM.
What it’s for & How to take
Olanzapine is an antipsychotic medication. It works by blocking an over stimulation of natural chemicals in the brain. This medication is used to treat mental and mood conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Olanzapine is also used, along with other medications, to help treat depression.
Olanzapine may decrease hallucinations while also helping to improve concentration. This medication may also decrease mood swings. Olanzapine may help an individual take a more active part in their own life.
This medication is usually taken once daily, with or without food. Your dose is based on your condition and response to treatment. Your doctor may slowly increase your dose to decrease the chance of side effects. If your symptoms are not getting better, call your doctor.
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of your next dose, skip it and continue with your normal dose time. Do not take a double dose to make up the missed dose.
This medication works best when taken on a regular basis. Continue taking olanzapine even when you feel better. Do not stop taking this medication without talking with your doctor. You may need slowly decrease your dose to limit symptoms such as irritability, nausea, diarrhea, and trouble sleeping.
Most Important Warnings
- Olanzapine is not to be used to treat age-related psychosis or dementia. Older adults with dementia who take this medication have an increased risk of death, usually related to heart or infection conditions.
Other Warnings & Cautions
- Diabetic warning, this medication may affect your blood sugar. Watch for symptoms of increased blood sugar such as frequent urination and thirst. Watch for symptoms of decreased blood sugar such as dizziness, sweating, hunger and blurred vision. Diabetics check your blood sugar and contact your doctor if you notice changes.
- Rarely, this medication may cause a condition called neuroleptic malignant syndrome. Get to the hospital right away if you begin to develop severe muscle stiffness and confusion along with a fever, sweating, and fast heartbeat.
- Olanzapine has been known to cause males to have a painful or prolonged erection lasting more than 4 hours. If this occurs, seek immediate medical attention.
- This medication may increase your prolactin levels. In females, this may cause unwanted breast milk or menstrual cycle changes. In males, this may cause decreased sexual ability or enlarged breasts. Call your doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms.
- This medication may make you dizzy, drowsy, or blur your vision. Do not drive or do any activity that requires focus and attention until you are sure you can do them safely. Avoid alcoholic beverages while taking olanzapine.
- While taking this medication, your body does not sweat as much. In hot temperatures, the body may have a difficult time cooling itself. This may lead to heat stroke. Help prevent heat stroke while taking this medication. Avoid exercising in hot weather, saunas, or anything else which may increase your body temperature. Drink plenty of water.
- The elderly may be more sensitive to the side effects of this medication, especially seizures, difficulty swallowing, increased infections and heart problems.
- Infants born to mothers who are taking olanzapine may be at risk. This medication should only be used during pregnancy when the benefit to the mother is greater than the risk to the unborn baby. Breastfeeding is not recommended while taking this medication.
Interactions & Side Effects
- Tell your pharmacist or doctor all your medication allergies so they may determine if olanzapine is safe for you to take.
- Avoid dangerous drug interactions. Tell your pharmacist or doctor all the other medication you are taking, including over the counter supplements, even if you don’t take them very often.
- Ask your doctor if this medication is safe to take with your current health conditions. Tell your doctor if you have diabetes, heart problems, liver disease, seizure disorder thyroid problems or a history of dehydration.
- While taking olanzapine, you may feel some constipation, drowsiness, upset stomach, weight gain or dry mouth. If these or any other unwanted side effects persist, contact your doctor or pharmacist to talk about it with them.
- Call your doctor right away if you have any thoughts of suicide, severe restlessness, signs of infection, severe mood changes or any uncontrolled movements, usually of the face, mouth, arms, and legs.
- Call emergency 911 if you have any symptoms of a heart attack such as chest and left arm pain, shortness of breath and sweating or if you have symptoms of a stroke such as weakness on one side of your body, slurred speech, sudden vision changes, and confusion.
If you have any questions about what you have heard, contact your pharmacist or doctor. This session does not include all the potential interactions or side effects that this medication may cause. Ask your pharmacist how your medication should be stored and how you should dispose of it when you are done taking it. Do not share your medication with anyone, ever. Remember, this is not meant to replace your counseling session with your pharmacist. In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.