Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.
Certain foods and beverages: Anyone taking phenelzine must avoid the following, and for 2 weeks after stopping the medication: pickled herring, liver, dry sausage (including Genoa salami, hard salami, pepperoni, and Lebanon bologna), broad bean pods (fava beans), sauerkraut, cheese (cottage cheese and cream cheese are allowed), yogurt, beer and wine, alcohol-free and reduced-alcohol beer and wine products, yeast extract, meat extract, and excessive amounts of chocolate or caffeine.
People being treated with phenelzine should also avoid any spoiled or improperly refrigerated, handled, or stored protein-rich foods such as meats, fish, and dairy products, including foods that may have undergone protein breakdown by aging, pickling, fermentation, or smoking to improve flavour.
Diabetes: If you have diabetes, your doctor should closely monitor your condition while you are taking phenelzine, as it may affect blood sugar control.
Epilepsy: If you have epilepsy, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Hypertensive crisis: The most serious reaction associated with taking phenelzine is the occurrence of severe high blood pressure. These reactions include some or all of the following symptoms:
- dilated pupils and eye sensitivity to light
- extremely fast or slow heart rate associated with constricting chest pain
- headache at the back of the head which may travel to the front
- nausea or vomiting
- neck stiffness or soreness
- sweating (sometimes with fever and sometimes with cold, clammy skin)
If you have these symptoms, stop taking the medication and get immediate medical attention.
Identification: People taking phenelzine are encouraged to carry a card or other notification of the fact that they are taking this medication.
Other medications: Phenelzine interacts with a number of different medications. Therefore, be sure to tell any health care professional involved in your care of all the medications you are taking, including those that can be bought without a prescription. Always ask your pharmacist for help in choosing over-the-counter medications.
Surgery: If you are scheduled to undergo surgery, inform all of the health care professionals involved in your care that you are taking this medication. Ask your doctor when you should stop taking this medication before the surgery - usually this medication should be stopped at least 10 days before the operation.
Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.
Breast-feeding: It is not known if phenelzine passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking this medication, it may affect your baby. Do not breast-feed while you are taking this medication.
Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children.