Zyprexa (or olanzapine) is an atypical antipsychotic, which is used to treat certain mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. It is also sometimes used along with another medication to effectively treat depression. Zyprexa works by restoring a chemical imbalance in the brain, which then helps decrease hallucinations, helps lessen agitation, and encourages one to participate in and enjoy everyday activities again.

Use and Dosage

This medication is typically taken by mouth with or without food (depending on your doctor’s instructions) once per day. Exact dosage, however, depends on your underlying medical condition and initial response to treatment. In consideration of potential side effects, your doctor will likely start you out at a low dosage and then gradually increase it as needed. Otherwise, you are at a greater risk of experiencing said side effects.

It is important you take Zyprexa regularly and exactly as your doctor instructed in order to get the most out of the medication. Taking it at the same time every day may help you remember. Furthermore, you should continue taking Zyprexa, even if you start to feel well or your symptoms weaken, as this may worsen certain conditions and trigger harmful side effects.

Potential Side Effects

As with many medications, zyprexa may produce some unwanted side effects. These side effects, however, do not typically outweigh the benefits of the medication. And if they persist or worsen, a simple discussion with your doctor may lead to an easy solution. Still, it is important to be aware of possible mild and more serious effects that may result from the medication:

Mild Effects

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dry mouth
  • Upset stomach
  • Constipation
  • Increase in appetite
  • Weight gain

Serious Effects

  • Shaking or tremors
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Fainting
  • Confusion
  • Restlessness
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Yellowing eyes or skin
  • Severe stomach or abdominal pain
  • Difficulty urinating

If you experience any of the above mild side effects, which persist or worsen over time, simply talk to your doctor promptly. If you experience more serious effects, however, tell your doctor right away.

In addition to the aforementioned side effects, Zyprexa may also make your blood sugar rise, which can worsen or even cause diabetes. You should, therefore, tell your doctor immediately if you observe symptoms of a high blood sugar, such as increased thirst or urination. This medication can also cause significant weight gain, a rise in blood cholesterol levels, and a condition called tardive dyskinesia. If you experience any unusual and/or uncontrolled movements, such as of the face, mouth, arms, or legs, tell your doctor right away.

Lastly, it is possible to have a very serious allergic reaction to this drug—though this seldom occurs, you should be aware of the symptoms, which include a rash, itching, swelling, difficulty breathing, and severe dizziness. If you do experience any of these symptoms, you should seek medical help right away.

Before Taking Zyprexa

It is vital you take precautionary measures anytime you’re considering a new medication, as they have very real and direct effects on your everyday life. Before you start taking Zyprexa, you should first…

  • Talk to your doctor about existing allergies, as this product may contain inactive ingredients that can cause allergic reactions or other issues.
  • Discuss your medical history with your doctor, especially of liver problems, difficulty swallowing, low white blood cell count, seizures, dementia, trouble urinating, intestinal disease, smoking, and glaucoma. A personal or family history of diabetes, heart disease, and sleep apnea are also of significance.
  • Understand all of Zyprexa’s possible side effects and risks, as dizziness or drowsiness may occur, which will affect your ability to drive, use machinery, or perform any other activity that requires alertness and clear vision. Zyprexa can also make you sweat less, which in turn, makes you more likely to suffer from heat stroke—so, you should avoid activities that may lead to overheating. And when the weather is hot, drink plenty of fluids and dress appropriately.