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15 Zyprexa Side Effects that You Need to Know

15 Zyprexa Side Effects that You Need to Know

Zyprexa is the brand name of the powerful antipsychotic Olanzapine. It is used to treat symptoms of schizophrenia including hallucinations, severe agitation, sleep problems, and lack of energy. It is increasingly prescribed to treat mania in bipolar patients. Though it is commonly prescribed and can be quite effective, Zyprexiaruns the risk of some severe side effects. It is important to be aware of Zyprexa side effects if you’re prescribed this medication so that you know what to look out for and when to see your doctor.

This article presents an overview of the most commonly reported Zyprexa side effects. Our list of side effects begins with the 10 most frequently reported side effects to watch for as you take the medication. The final section lists severe rare side effects that must be reported to your doctor immediately. 

What Is Zyprexa?

Zyprexa is included in a category of antipsychotic medications called “atypical antipsychotics.” Atypical antipsychotics were created in the 1990s as an improvement on “typical antipsychotics” formulated in the 1950s. These '50s medications include Haldol and Thorazine, which are still prescribed by some doctors today.

Among atypical antipsychotics, Zyprexa is considered one of the most effective in treating severe symptoms of schizophrenia. Some patients report that it eliminates their hallucinations, allows them to think clearly, and returns joy to their lives. For some, Zyprexa can be a life-changing drug.

 Doctors who prescribe Zyprexa have these benefits in mind. However, it’s good to know about the Zyprexa side effects before taking the drug.

Before Taking Zyprexa

Dosage, Uses, and Interactions

Common Zyprexa Side Effects

Weight Gain/Uncontrollable Appetite

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Weight gain is the most common side effect reported in patients who take Zyprexa. Of all the atypical antipsychotics, Zyprexa is most likely to cause weight gain. This weight gain can vary from none at all, to a few pounds in a month or even 10 pounds in a week.

Many people who take Zyprexa report that their appetite is uncontrollable. Others state that they control their eating, but still gain weight. In any case, due to this common, yet serious, side effect, anyone who is overweight, is diabetic, or has suffered from an eating disorder should consult with their doctor about whether this side effect is worth Zyprexa’s benefits.

Metabolic Syndrome

Along with Zyprexa’s weight gain side effect, those who take this medication need to watch out for metabolic syndrome and its individual symptoms. Metabolic syndrome is made up of a collection of symptoms, including:

  • High blood sugar
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Extra fat around the waistline

Have your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol checked regularly. Even if you did not suffer from these issues in the past, they may occur while you take Zyprexa.

Extreme Drowsiness

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Since Zyprexa is sometimes prescribed for insomnia, it makes sense that it would increase sleepiness in those who take it. However, some people who take Zyprexa report deep sleep that lasts from 12 to 18 hours. Some people who take Zyprexa describe sleeping through their alarm clocks, even when multiple alarms are set.

Obviously, this drowsiness should be monitored. Before driving, make sure that you feel alert. If your workplace requires that you be on your toes and wide awake, consider asking your supervisor if you can take a few days off to see how you feel at work before taking on your regular responsibilities.

Fainting and Dizziness

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Dizziness, fainting, and lightheadedness are frequent Zyprexa side effects. One way to manage these side effects is to stand up slowly and avoid intense movement such as running and sports until you know if you experience this side effect.

Tardive Dyskinesia/Uncontrollable Muscle Movement—Call Your Doctor

Tardive Dyskinesia is not a common side effect; however, it is one of the more common “serious” Zyprexa side effects, so it’s something to be aware of.

Tardive Dyskinesia is a movement disorder that induces permanent, uncontrollable movement in the face, arms, or legs. The risk of this side effect increases the longer you take Zyprexa, so you need to watch out for it throughout the duration of your Zyprexa treatment.

Prolactin Increase—Call Your Doctor

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Prolactin increase is an uncommon, but distressing, Zyprexa side effect. An increase in the hormone prolactin can cause breast tissue to grow in men and lower their sperm count. Women who experience an increase in prolactin may develop breast milk and miss their periods.

Because the development of breast milk can be frightening for a woman who is not pregnant, and the development of breast tissue can be troubling for a man, anyone suffering from these side effects should call their doctor as soon as possible.

Stomach Pain, Constipation, and Weak Bladder Control

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Stomach problems are a common side effect of many medications, and Zyprexa is no different. Constipation is a common stomach issue reported among Zyprexa users. Your doctor may prescribe a laxative or other product to ease your constipation.

Bladder control problems are not as common as constipation and general stomach pain, but they have been reported, so you should be aware of them. If your bladder control problems are frequent and troubling, see your doctor.

Tingles, Numbness, or Pain in the Arms and Legs

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Tingling and tickling feelings in the limbs can be surprising if you’re not aware that they’re a common Zyprexa side effect. Tingling can be mild, and some people become used to it. However, numbness and pain in the limbs have been reported among Zyprexa users. If your arms or legs are going numb or feeling painful, call your doctor.

Dry Mouth or Drooling

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You may notice that your mouth feels more dry than usual while taking this medication. If you suffer from dry mouth, consider purchasing a dry mouth rinse from the drug store. Drooling in your sleep can also be a side effect of this medication. If drooling in your sleep bothers or embarrasses you, learning to sleep with your mouth closed can help. Try using nasal strips to hold your nose open, or putting vapor rub under your nose to open your nasal passages and help you breathe through your nose at night.

Problems with Memory and Speech

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Some common Zyprexa side effects include memory loss, speech difficulty, and cognition issues. These side effects can be mild or debilitating. Getting confused in front of friends or your coworkers can be embarrassing. If you feel comfortable with the people around you, you can tell them you’re taking a medication with cognitive side effects. This will help them understand that your memory loss or speech issues are temporary.

However, if your memory loss, speech problems, or cognition problems are causing you great distress or affecting your ability to do your job, then you should talk to your doctor right away.

Less Common Zyprexa Side Effects

The following side effects are very rare, yet severe. If you suffer from any of these Zyprexa side effects, call your doctor immediately:

  • Symptoms of Dehydration
  • These include extreme thirst, dark urine, and confusion.
  •  Trouble Speaking or Swallowing
  • These symptoms may also include swollen gums or sores on the gums.
  • Extreme Swelling in the Face, Hands, or Feet
  • Some edema (swelling) may occur when taking Zyprexa. Notify your doctor if the swelling is extreme.
  • Symptoms of Liver Problems
  • Stiff Muscles Along with Flu-Like Symptoms

What Clinical Schizophrenia Tests Are There?

Zyprexa is one of the strongest antipsychotics. It can successfully reduce hallucinations and calm mania in some patients. If your doctor prescribes Zyprexa, remember that this powerful drug comes with the risk of some serious side effects. Despite this risk, some patients who only suffer from mild Zyprexa side effects may decide that these are worth the positive change the medication has on their lives.

Featured Image via Flickr

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