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.
Body temperature: This medication, like other antipsychotic medications, can disrupt the body's ability to control body temperature. If you exercise vigorously, are exposed to extreme heat, are dehydrated, or are taking anticholinergic medications (e.g., benztropine, oxybutynin) you are more at risk. Contact your doctor as soon as possible if you feel very hot and are unable to cool down while taking this medication.
Drowsiness/reduced alertness: Olanzapine may impair the mental and physical abilities required for driving a car or operating machinery. Avoid drinking alcohol while taking this medication, as it may produce extreme drowsiness.
High blood sugar: Olanzapine, in rare instances, may cause an increase in blood sugar levels. Your doctor will monitor you if you have diabetes or are at risk of developing diabetes. If you experience weakness, increased thirst, increased urination, and increased appetite while taking this medication, contact your doctor.
Liver disease: Olanzapine can affect liver function and cause liver problems.
If you have liver problems, 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. Your doctor may want to test your liver function regularly with blood tests while you are taking this medication.
If you experience symptoms of liver problems such as fatigue, feeling unwell, loss of appetite, nausea, yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes, dark urine, pale stools, abdominal pain or swelling, and itchy skin, contact your doctor immediately.
Low blood pressure: Olanzapine may cause low blood pressure, especially when moving from a lying or sitting position to a standing position. If you have heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, or conditions that increase the risk of developing low blood pressure (e.g., dehydration, treatment with blood pressure medications) you should be monitored by your doctor.
Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS): Olanzapine, like other antipsychotic medications, can cause a potentially fatal syndrome known as neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS). If you notice the symptoms of NMS such as high fever, confusion or loss of consciousness, racing or irregular heartbeat, muscle stiffness, or sweating, get immediate medical attention.
Other medical conditions: If you have other medical conditions such as enlarged prostate glands, narrow-angle glaucoma, or paralytic ileus, 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.
Prolonged erection: In rare cases, use of this medication by some men may cause them to develop priapism (a prolonged and painful erection). If you have an erection that lasts for more than 4 hours, contact your doctor.
Seizures: Olanzapine may increase the risk of seizures, especially if you have had seizures in the past. If you are at risk of seizures and take this medication, you should be closely monitored by your doctor.
Tardive dyskinesia (TD): TD, a syndrome consisting of potentially irreversible, involuntary, repetitive movements of the face and tongue muscles, may develop in people who take certain antipsychotic medications including olanzapine.
Although TD appears most commonly in seniors, especially women, it is impossible to predict who will develop TD. The risk of developing TD increases with higher doses and long-term treatment. If your experience muscle twitching or abnormal movements of the face or tongue, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Weight gain: With long-term treatment, weight gain (averaging 5.4 kg) has occurred in people who take this medication. Weight gain tends to level off after 6 to 8 months of treatment.
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: This medication passes into breast milk. Women taking this medication should not breast-feed.
Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children under the age of 18.
There may be a higher risk of strokes, heart attacks, and deaths associated with the use of olanzapine by seniors with dementia. Seek medical attention immediately if you notice the signs and symptoms of a stroke (e.g., sudden weakness or numbness, speech problems, vision problems, dizziness, confusion, sudden severe headache) or a heart attack (e.g., discomfort or pain in the chest, back, neck, jaw, arms; sweating; shortness of breath; nausea; lightheadedness) or infection (e.g., pneumonia). Olanzapine should not be used in seniors with dementia.