Unfortunately, you might get some side effects before you start to feel any better. Most side effects should go away after a
few weeks. Look at the table below. It tells you what to do if you get any of the usual side effects. Not everyone will get the
side effects shown. There are many other possible side effects. Ask your pharmacist, doctor or nurse if you are worried
about anything else that you think might be a side effect.
Side effect What is it? What should I do if it happens to me?
DROWSINESS Feeling sleepy or sluggish. It can last for a
few hours after taking your dose.
Don’t drive or use machinery. Ask your doctor if you can take
your olanzapine at a different time of the day.
WEIGHT GAIN Eating more and putting on weight,
especially just after you start the
Avoid fatty foods like chocolate, crisps and fizzy drinks. A diet
full of vegetables and fibre will usually help, as will physical
activities such as walking. If it becomes a problem or you are
worried, ask to see a dietician.
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.
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 possible.
PERIPHERAL OEDEMA When your ankles swell up. Discuss this with your doctor when you see them next.
A low blood pressure. You may feel faint
when you stand up.
Try not to stand up too quickly. If you feel dizzy, don’t drive.
This dizziness is not dangerous
Your liver is not working as normal. You
should not feel any symptoms. This is only
discovered if your doctor does a blood test.
Continue to take your olanzapine. Your liver should return to
normal after a while. Your doctor will probably want to do
regular blood tests to make sure your liver is O.K. Serious
liver problems don’t occur with olanzapine, so don’t worry too
PHOTOSENSITIVITY Skin goes blotchy in the sun. Avoid direct sunlight or sun-lamps. Use a high factor sun
What about alcohol?
It is officially recommended that people taking olanzapine should not drink alcohol. This is because both olanzapine and alcohol can
cause drowsiness. If the two are taken at the same time, severe drowsiness can occur. This can lead to falls or accidents. As well as
this, drinking alcohol often makes psychosis worse. 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 olanzapine because you fancy a drink. Discuss any concerns you may have with your doctor, pharmacist or
nurse. If you do drink alcohol, drink only small amounts. Never drink any alcohol and drive.
When I feel better, can I stop taking it?
No. If you stop taking olanzapine, your original symptoms may return, but this may not be for 3 to 6 months after you stop the drug. You
and your doctor should decide together when you can come off it. Most people need to be on olanzapine for quite a long time,
sometimes years. This is not thought to be harmful. Olanzapine is not addictive.
Remember, leaflets like this can only describe some of the effects of medication. You may find other
books or leaflets also 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
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