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What is Risperidal (Risperidone)?
Risperdal is an oral medication containing the active ingredient risperidone, prescribed to treat mental disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and irritability as a component of autistic disorder. When taken correctly, it helps you think more clearly by restoring the chemical balance of substances in the brain.
Risperdal is to be taken orally with or without food, usually once or twice per day. Follow the instructions provided by your doctor carefully. The liquid form of this medication should be measured with a special measuring device.
Do not use a household spoon as this may not provide the correct dosage. You may mix the dose with 100mL of liquid (e.g., water, coffee, orange juice) and drink it that way. Do not mix it with pop or tea. Do not prepare the mixture ahead of time and store it for later use. Consume at the time of preparation. The prescribed dosage is based on your age, the severity of your condition, and your response to treatment. Your doctor will also consider your existing medication schedule. The dose may be started low and gradually increased in order to minimize side effects. It is best if you take this medication at the same time each day, as this will help you remember to take it regularly and you will get the most benefit from it. Do not stop taking this medication without your doctor’s approval.
Store this medication in its original packaging until it is time to take it. Keep out of direct sunlight and away from moisture. Keep out of reach of children and pets. Do not consume expired or damaged medication. Keep in a location that will not exceed 25°C, and do not allow the liquid form to freeze. Dispose of all expired or surplus medication responsibly, following the instruction of your healthcare provider. Do not flush down the toilet or sink unless instructed to do so.
Common Side Effects
All medications come with a risk of side effects. It is important to recognize that your doctor has determined that your risk of side effects is outweighed by the potential benefit provided by this medication. Side effects will differ between individuals, and it is possible you will not experience any side effects at all. Risperdal is commonly associated with the following:
- Weight gain
If you experience any of these symptoms and they are of concern to you, or they worsen or do not resolve on their own, contact your doctor.
Severe Side Effects
Occasionally, Risperdal can be associated with severe side effects. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following:
- Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
- Muscle spasms
- Severe mood swings
- Sleep apnea
Risperdal can also lead to an increase in blood sugar, which can cause or exacerbate diabetes. If you experience unusual increased thirst or urination, tell your doctor right away. If you are diabetic, ensure to monitor your blood glucose closely and keep in regular contact with your doctor. You may need to change your medication or lifestyle factors to accommodate Risperdal.
On rare occasions, Risperdal can cause significant weight gain and increased triglyceride levels in the blood. This can be a risk factor for developing heart disease, so ensure to tell your doctor if you notice any abnormalities in your weight.
Risperdal can also cause a condition called tardive dyskinesia, which can occasionally be permanent. Tell your doctor immediately if you notice unusual or uncontrolled movements, particularly in the facial area, arms, or legs.
Risperdal can cause an increase in the amount of prolactin produced in the body. In females, this can lead to unwanted production of breast milk, altered menstrual cycles, or difficulty conceiving. For males, it can lead to reduced sexual ability, changes in sperm production, or gynecomastia. Consult your doctor if you are concerned about any symptoms that arise. Males can also experience painful or prolonged erections persisting for more than four hours. Do not continue taking Risperdal if this occurs and seek medical attention right away.
Emergency medical assistance should be sought if you experience severe side effects such as loss of consciousness, seizures, or symptoms of liver damage (persistent nausea/vomiting, appetite loss, abdominal pain, jaundice).
Risperdal can also sometimes lead to neuroleptic malignant syndrome, a very serious condition requiring immediate attention. Seek medical help if you notice fever, muscle stiffness, severe fatigue, severe confusion, unusual sweating, tachycardia, dark urine, or changes in urine output.
Allergic reactions to Risperdal are rare but not impossible. Do not take this medication if you are allergic to any of the ingredients. Inform your doctor if you have had severe allergic reactions to medication in the past. If you notice symptoms of an allergic reaction such as rash, itching, facial swelling, or difficulty breathing, seek emergency medical attention.
This is not an exhaustive list of side effects. If you experience any unusual symptoms that you find concerning, do not hesitate to contact your doctor.
Warnings & Precautions
Before taking this medication, ensure your doctor is aware of your medical history, particularly any allergies. Check the ingredients of this medication and do not take it if you are allergic to any components, or if you are allergic to paliperidone. Also inform your doctor if you have a personal or family history of liver disease, kidney disease, Parkinson’s, diabetes, dementia, seizures, dysphagia, heart disease, metabolic disorders, or sleep apnea.
Risperdal can cause QT prolongation, a condition that affects the heart rhythm. This can cause changes to the heart rate as well as clinical symptoms such as dizziness and fainting and requires medical attention immediately. The risk of developing this condition increases if you have other heart conditions or take other medication that also affects the heart rhythm. Tell your doctor if you have any heart conditions (heart failure, heart attack, slow heart rate, family history of QT prolongation or sudden cardiac death) or take medication that contributes to low potassium or magnesium levels in the blood such as diuretics.
As Risperdal can lead to dizziness or drowsiness, it is best to avoid other products that may exacerbate this symptom, such as alcohol and marijuana. Do not operate heavy machinery (including driving) until you know how Risperdal affects you. Avoid drinking alcohol.
Be sure to tell your doctor that you are taking or have taken this medication before having surgery. All of your healthcare providers should have a comprehensive list of the medications you regularly take.
Risperdal can reduce sweat production, which can increase your risk of developing heat stroke. While taking Risperdal it is best if you avoid activities that may lead to heatstroke, such as hard labor or exercise in hot weather, and hot pools. Ensure your fluid intake is adequate, and if you feel hot, find a cool place immediately and rest. If you develop a persistent fever, mood swings, dizziness, or headache, seek medical attention right away.
In some cases, older adults can be more susceptible to side effects of Risperdal, including dizziness, uncontrolled movements, and QT prolongation. Monitor symptoms of older adults taking this medication, as they are at higher risk of falling.
This medication should only be taken by pregnant people if absolutely necessary. If taken in the final three months of gestation, the baby can be born with muscle stiffness, shakiness, drowsiness, difficulty feeding and breathing, and constant crying. Inform your doctor if you observe any of these symptoms in your infant. If you think you could be pregnant, intend to become pregnant, or become pregnant while taking Risperdal, tell your doctor as soon as possible.
This medication has been shown to pass into breast milk, and can have negative effects on a nursing baby. Talk to your doctor before breastfeeding while on this medication. If you are breastfeeding, monitor your child for symptoms including muscle stiffness, unusual lethargy, or difficulty feeding. Contact your doctor should you observe any of these symptoms.
Interactions & Contraindications
Medications taken alongside each other can sometimes react, changing the way one or more of them function in the body and leading to negative side effects. It is important that you keep a comprehensive list of all the medications you take frequently, including prescription and non-prescription, and share this with your doctor. They may want to adjust your medication schedule to accommodate Risperdal. Do not start, stop, or change any medications without consulting your doctor first.
Metoclopramide can interact with Risperdal. Consult your doctor before taking them concurrently. Discuss with your healthcare provider if you also regularly take opioid pain relievers such as codeine, alcohol, marijuana, sleep or anxiety medication, muscle relaxants, or antihistamines. Check the labels on your regular medications to see if they cause drowsiness. Contact your doctor if you are unsure.