In this session, we will be discussing the consumer medication information for rivastigmine, trade name ExelonTM.

What it’s for & How to take

Rivastigmine is used to help treat confusion and dementia with Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease.

Alzheimer’s happens when nerve cells in the brain die. Nerves get tangled and messages slow or stop.

Medications for Alzheimer’s disease focus on two primary areas. The first type of medication increases the level of chemicals that send messages to the brain. The second type of medication slows the nerve death.

Neither of these two treatments cure Alzheimer’s. They may help improve memory, awareness, and possibly make it easier to do daily chores.

Rivastigmine helps increase the chemicals in the brain that are used to send messages.

Most Parkinson’s Disease patients over the age of 65 will also develop some confusion. Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are different diseases. However, the need to increase the message chemicals in the brain is similar.

Rivastigmine is usually taken with food, twice daily. Your doctor may slowly increase your dose of rivastigmine over a couple of months as your body gets used to the effects.

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.

Warnings & Cautions

  • If you miss your dose of rivastigmine for 3 or more days, talk with your doctor before you start taking it again. You may need to start at a lower dose to limit the side effects.
  • If you have an uneven heartbeat, severe stomach pain or trouble urinating, call your health care provider as soon as possible.
  • Do not drive or do any activity that requires focus and attention until you are sure you can do them safely. Limit alcoholic beverages while taking rivastigmine.
  • Rivastigmine should only be used during pregnancy when clearly needed. If you are taking rivastigmine and think you might be pregnant, tell your doctor. It is unknown if rivastigmine crosses into breast milk. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist before breastfeeding if you are taking this medication.

Interactions & Side Effects

  • Tell your pharmacist or doctor all your medication allergies so they may determine if rivastigmine 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 any breathing problems, fainting, heart disease, stomach problems, seizures, or difficulty urinating.
  • You may feel some nausea, loss of appetite, dizziness, shakiness or maybe some muscle cramps while your body is getting used to the rivastigmine. These side effects usually go away after 3 weeks. If these, or any other side effects persist, call your pharmacist or doctor to discuss it with them.

If you have any questions about what you have heard, contact your pharmacist or doctor. 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.

Updated 7/20