Uses and Side Effects of Oleanz (Olanzapine)
What is Oleanz?
Oleanz is a brand of olanzapine manufactured by Sun Pharma, India. It is a medication used for psychosis and bipolar disorder.
When administered via intramuscular injection, it is useful in treating acutely disturbed patients who cannot take oral medications. Its main side effects are drowsiness, weight gain, and impaired glucose tolerance in patients pre-disposed to diabetes.
Uses of Oleanz
Oleanz can be used in a wide variety of scenarios to treat mental disorders in patients over thirteen years of age, including:
- Schizophrenia—Oleanz is effective in treating the symptoms of this serious mental disorder which is characterized by delusions, hallucinations, disturbed or unusual thinking, loss of interest in life, and strong or inappropriate emotions.
- Bipolar affective disorder—This disease exhibits itself as extreme and persistent mood swings that disrupt a person’s functionality. Bouts of mania and depression can be accompanied by psychotic features such as auditory hallucinations and grandiose delusions. Oleanz is effective in treating both the manic and depressive phases of the illness and stabilizing mood.
- Depression—In combination with Prodep (Fluoxetine), Oleanz is effective in treating depression that is resistant to other antidepressants. Usually psychiatrists only add Oleanz when depression is successfully treated with anti-depressants. In addition, Oleanz can especially help those patients experiencing psychosis.
- Controlling acutely disturbed patients—Oleanz can have a sedative and calming effect on patients with acutely disturbed behavior, especially those patients disturbed because of psychotic experiences. It quickly calms them, helping prevent harm to the patient, others, and property. Oleanz is available as both intramuscular injection and rapid ingestion. Rapidly dissolving tablets quickly dissolve in the mouth with no need for the patient to swallow them. Sometimes, patients who refuse medications can be given rapidly dissolving tablets mixed with their food, though this can carry ethical issues.
How Does Oleanz Work?
Oleanz is an anti-psychotic drug that works to rebalance the levels of the naturally-occurring brain chemicals serotonin and dopamine.
In addition to these chemicals, it effects a wide variety of receptors in the human body. The reduction in histamine neurotransmission and serotonin specific (5HT2C) antagonism can cause significant weight gain. In addition, it can cause diabetes mellitus independent of its weight-increasing properties.
Around 30% percent of patients in long-term treatment can develop diabetes mellitus.
How to Take Oleanz
Oleanz comes as a pill or an orally disintegrating tablet (tablet that dissolves quickly in the mouth). It is usually taken once a day with or without food. Take the medication at around the same time every day.
Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take the medication exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Do not try to push the orally disintegrating tablet through the foil. Instead, use dry hands to peel back the foil packaging. Immediately take out the tablet and place it in your mouth. The tablet will quickly dissolve and can be swallowed with or without liquid.
Your doctor may start you on a low dose of Oleanz and gradually increase your dose.
This medication may help control your symptoms, but it will not cure your condition. It may take several weeks or longer before you feel the full benefit of treatment. Continue to take the medication even if you feel well. Do not stop taking it without talking to your doctor. Your doctor will probably want to decrease your dose gradually.
Warnings and Precautions Before You Take Oleanz
Before starting any course of medicine, it is important to make sure you take all necessary precautions to ensure best chances of a successful treatment. Before taking Oleanz, be sure you:
- Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to olanzapine or any other medications.
- Tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take since this could affect your treatment. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
- Tell your doctor if you use or have ever used street drugs or have overused prescription medications and if you have or have ever had a stroke, a mini-stroke, heart disease or a heart attack, an irregular heartbeat, seizures, breast cancer, any condition that makes it difficult for you to swallow, high or low blood pressure, a high level of fats (cholesterol and triglycerides) in your blood, a low number of white blood cells, liver or prostate disease, paralytic ileus (condition in which food cannot move through the intestine); glaucoma (an eye condition), or high blood sugar, or if you or anyone in your family has or has ever had diabetes.
- Tell your doctor if you have severe vomiting or diarrhea or signs of dehydration now, or if you develop these symptoms at any time during your treatment. Also tell your doctor if you have ever had to stop taking a medication for mental illness because of severe side effects.
- Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, especially if you are in the last few months of your pregnancy, or if you plan to become pregnant or are breast-feeding.
- If you become pregnant while taking olanzapine, call your doctor. Olanzapine may cause problems in newborns following delivery if it is taken during the last months of pregnancy.
- If you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking olanzapine.
- You should know that olanzapine may make you drowsy. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how this medication affects you.
- You should know that alcohol can add to the drowsiness caused by this medication. Do not drink alcohol while taking olanzapine.
- Tell your doctor if you use tobacco products. Cigarette smoking may decrease the effectiveness of this medication.
- You should know that you may experience hyperglycemia (an increase in blood sugar) while you are taking this medication, even if you do not already have diabetes. If you have schizophrenia, you are more likely to develop diabetes than people who do not have schizophrenia, and taking olanzapine or similar medications may increase this risk.
- Tell your doctor immediately if you have any of the following symptoms while you are taking olanzapine: extreme thirst, frequent urination, extreme hunger, blurred vision, or weakness. It is very important to call your doctor as soon as you have any of these symptoms, because high blood sugar can cause a serious condition called ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis may become life-threatening if it is not treated at an early stage. Symptoms of ketoacidosis include: dry mouth, nausea and vomiting, shortness of breath, breath that smells fruity, and decreased consciousness.
- You should know that olanzapine may cause fast or slow heartbeat, dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting when you get up too quickly from a lying position. This is more common when you first start taking olanzapine. To avoid this problem, get out of bed slowly, resting your feet on the floor for a few minutes before standing up.
- You should know that olanzapine may make it harder for your body to cool down when it gets very hot. Tell your doctor if you plan to do vigorous exercise or be exposed to extreme heat.
- If you have phenylketonuria (PKU, an inherited condition in which a special diet must be followed to prevent mental retardation), you should know that the orally disintegrating tablets contain aspartame that forms phenylalanine.
- You should know that when olanzapine is used to treat teenagers, it must be used as part of a total treatment program that may include counseling and educational support. Make sure that your child follows all of the doctor's or the therapist's instructions.
Talk to your doctor about eating grapefruit and drinking grapefruit juice while taking this medicine.
Be sure to drink plenty of water every day while you are taking this medication.
Important Warning Before Taking Oleanz
Studies have shown that older adults with dementia (a brain disorder that affects the ability to remember, think clearly, communicate, and perform daily activities and that may cause changes in mood and personality) who take antipsychotics (medications for mental illness) such as olanzapine have an increased chance of death during treatment.
Older adults with dementia may also have a greater chance of having a stroke or mini-stroke during treatment. Talk to the doctor who prescribed this medication if you, a family member, or someone you care for has dementia and is taking olanzapine.
Side Effects of Oleanz
Oleanz may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- Unusual behavior
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Difficulty walking
- Weight gain
- Dry mouth
- Pain in arms, legs, back, or joints
- Breast enlargement or discharge
- Late or missed menstrual periods
- Decreased sexual ability
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
- Changes in vision
- Swelling of the arms, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
- Unusual movements of your face or body that you cannot control
- Sore throat, fever, chills, and other signs of infection
- Very stiff muscles
- Excess sweating
- Fast or irregular heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
Oleanz may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.
Taking this medication may cause the level of fats in your blood to increase. Talk to your doctor about the risks of taking Oleanz.
Teenagers who take this drug are more likely than adults to gain weight, have increased levels of fat in their blood, develop liver problems, and experience side effects such as sleepiness, breast enlargement, and discharge from the breasts.
Talk to your child's doctor about the risks of treating your child with Oleanz. Your child's doctor may choose to first prescribe a different medication that does not have these risks.
Symptoms of overdose may include:
- Slurred speech
- Fast heartbeat
- Sudden movements that you cannot control
- Coma (loss of consciousness for a period of time)
If any of this symptoms are experienced, call the doctor immediately.
Please note that this author does not have any affiliation to Sun Pharma, India or Oleanz. The only purpose for this article is to highlight the uses and side effects of this medication. Always see a doctor before starting any treatment.
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© 2014 Dr Manura Nanayakkara
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