Side effect What is it? What should I do if this happens to me?
ANXIETY Feeling nervous This should go with time. If you are worried, contact your
BLURRED VISION Things look fuzzy and you can't
Don't drive. See your doctor if you are worried. You won't
CONSTIPATION Feeling "bunged up" inside. You
can't pass a motion or stool.
Eat more fibre e.g. bran, fruit and vegetables. Do more
walking. Make sure you drink plenty of fluid. A mild
laxative from a pharmacy might help.
DIZZINESS Feeling light-headed and faint. Don't stand up too quickly. Try and lie down when you
feel it coming on. Don't drive.
DRY MOUTH Not much saliva or spit. Sugar-free boiled sweets, chewing gum or eating citrus
fruits usually helps. If not, your doctor can give you a
mouth spray. A change in medicine or dose may be
STOMACH UPSET This includes feeling and being
sick and getting diarrhoea.
If it's mild, see your pharmacist. If it lasts for more than a
day or so, stop taking your anticholinergic and see your
CONFUSION Your mind is all mixed up. Contact your doctor soon.
URINE RETENTION Not much urine passed. Contact your doctor soon.
What about alcohol?
It is officially recommended that people taking anticholinergics should not drink alcohol. This is because both
anticholinergics and alcohol can cause drowsiness. If the two are taken at the same time, severe drowsiness can
result. This can lead to falls or accidents. As well as this, drinking alcohol often makes your mood unstable. Excessive
drinking is especially likely to do this. Once people are used to taking medication, they can sometimes drink alcohol in
small amounts without any harm. Avoid alcohol altogether for the first one or two months. After this, if you want a
drink, try a glass of your normal drink and see how you feel. If this doesn’t make you feel drowsy, then it is probably
OK to drink small amounts. It pays to be very cautious because alcohol affects people in different ways, especially
when they are taking medication.
Don’t stop taking your medication because you fancy a drink at the weekend. If you do drink alcohol, drink only small
amounts. Never drink any alcohol and drive while on anticholinergics. Discuss any concerns you may have with your
doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
When can I stop this medication?
Some people find that after a few months, they can come off their anticholinergic and the original side effects of the
other medication do not come back. You and your doctor should decide together when you should stop this
Anticholinergics are not thought to be addictive but some people find they start to enjoy some of their effects. This
means they might have some difficulty stopping them.
Remember, leaflets like this can only describe some of the effects of medication. You may also
find other books or leaflets useful. If you have access to the internet you may find a lot of
information there as well, but be careful, as internet based information is not always accurate.
2001 United Kingdom Psychiatric Pharmacy Group www.ukppg.org.uk
This leaflet is to help you understand about your medicine. It is not an official manufacturer's Patient Information
Leaflet. For more information call the UKPPG National Telephone Helpline, 11am to 5pm, Monday to Friday
on 020 7919 2999 or visit www.nmhct.nhs.uk/pharmacy
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