The FDA approved (December 1993) risperidone is mainly used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar mania and autism, as it is an atypical antipsychotic drug. The difference between atypical antipsychotic drugs and typical antipsychotic drugs is that the former lowers extra-pyramidal (nerves that coordinate movement) side effects and constipation. The injectable form of the medication, which is a long acting form, is known as Risperdal Consta.
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Communicate to the doctor if you are allergic to risperidone or any other medicine before you begin taking the medication. Also inform him if you are taking or plan to take any other prescribed or non-prescribed remedies like vitamins, herbal products or nutritional supplements.
The doctor should also know if you have a history of drug abuse like overusing prescribed medication or if you have used street drugs and consumed alcohol in large amounts. Also inform the doctor if you have had any of these medical conditions like Parkinson's disease, swallowing difficulties, breast cancer, irregular heart beats, angina, heart failure, heart attack, stroke, high or low blood pressure, seizures, any other heart disease, liver and kidney disease and also if anyone in your family is or has been afflicted with diabetes. In case you have ever had to stop taking medication for mental illness because of severe side effects then let your doctor know this as well.
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The doctor must be told if you are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant, and also he should be informed if you do become pregnant while you are taking risperidone. Rule out breast feeding while you are on the drug. If you are slated for a surgery, including dental intervention, then the surgeon or dentist need to be told that you are taking risperidone.
Risperidone can make some people drowsy so till you know how it affects you do not drive a vehicle or operate machinery. Alcohol could also add to the feeling of drowsiness and so it is best to avoid it while on the medication.
Even if you do not have diabetes you could be inflicted with hyperglycemia (an increase in blood sugar levels) if you are taking risperidone. Communicate to the doctor immediately if after taking risperidone you have had symptoms like extreme thirst, extreme hunger, frequent urination, weakness and blurred vision. These symptoms are an indication of high blood sugar and if it is left untreated then it could lead to a more serious and life threatening condition called ketoacidosis. Symptoms of ketoacidosis are dry mouth, upset stomach, short breath, fruity smelling breath and lowered consciousness. Ketoacidosis needs to be treated in the early stages or it could be fatal.
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Risperidone makes it difficult to heat up the body once it is cold and also it is difficult to cool down if the temperature of the body has increased due to vigorous physical activity. You must tell the doctor, before you take risperidone, if you are likely to be exposed to either extremely high or low temperature.
Other side effects seen while using risperidone are dizziness, light-headedness and fainting when you get up from a lying position and are especially noticeable when you first start taking the medication. The best way to prevent these symptoms is to get out of bed slowly, resting your feet on the floor first before standing up fully.
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Phenylketonuria is a condition which requires a special diet in order to prevent mental illness. So if you have this condition be cautious as the risperidone tablet that disintegrates orally, contains phenylalanine.
Risperidone is used to treat psychotic conditions like schizophrenia which are characterized by symptoms where distorted thoughts, emotions and perceptions are common and lead to mental disorders. The medication is also used in symptoms of severe dementia like behavioural disturbances.
Take the medication exactly as prescribed with or without food. Initially the doctor may give you a small dose and increase it slowly as your body gets used to the medication. The dosage is based on factors like your medical condition and how you respond to the medication. So even if you are feeling better or mentally alert continue with the medication as directed.
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In case you have been prescribed the liquid form of the medicine then use the special measuring device and not a household spoon as the dose measured out could be incorrect. Do not take the medication more often than prescribed or in larger doses as it will not help you to get well faster, rather it will increase the risk of side effects and pose further problems for you. The medication should not be stopped without the doctor's approval and it should be used regularly and at the same time each day for best results. If your condition remains static or deteriorates inform the doctor.
The exact procedure that risperidone uses in order to be effective is not fully understood. However, just like other antipsychotics, it interferes with the communication between the nerves in the brain. Nerves communicate with each other when they make and release certain chemicals known as neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters attach themselves to nerve receptors when they travel to nearby nerves. This attachment will either inhibit or activate the function of these nerves.
Risperidone blocks the nerve receptors like dopamine type 2, serotonin type 2, and also the alpha 2 adrenergic receptors. Psychotic disorders are caused when communication between nerves in the brain becomes abnormal and alters the way neurotransmitters communicate. Risperidone works by altering this psychotic state.
Herbal medications like St. John's wort could worsen sensitivity to the sun and could also increase serotonin when used with risperidone and so combining the two is not advisable. Ma huang and yohimbe are two other herbal remedies that should be avoided. Kava kava and valerian could increase drowsiness. Ginseng that works partly as an MAO inhibitor should not be combined with risperidone. Alcohol should not be imbibed while taking risperidone and smoking marijuana is not advisable either as sleepiness and inactivity could increase. Avoid exposure to the sun as the medication could lead to an increase in photosensitivity.
Do not stop taking risperidone without first consulting the doctor.
Store the medicine away from light and moisture, at room temperature. If you are using the oral solution of risperidone make sure it does not freeze. Do not store any medication in the bathroom and keep them out of reach of children and pets. Medicine should not be flushed down the toilet or poured into the drain unless advised to do so. Safe and proper disposal of medicine that is outdated or not needed should be carried out after consultation with the local waste disposal company or the pharmacist.