This medication is used to treat symptoms of dry mouth due to a certain immune disease (Sjogren's syndrome) or from saliva gland damage due to radiation treatments of the head/neck for cancer. Pilocarpine belongs to a class of drugs known as cholinergic agonists. It works by stimulating certain nerves to increase the amount of saliva you produce, making it easier and more comfortable to speak and swallow.
Take this medication by mouth with or without food, usually 3-4 times daily, or as directed by your doctor.
To reduce your risk of side effects, your doctor may direct you to start this medication at a low dose and gradually increase your dose. Follow your doctor's instructions carefully.
Dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment. If you have liver problems, your doctor may direct you to start taking this drug only twice daily. The usual maximum adult dose is 30 milligrams each day.
Take this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, take it at the same times each day.
You may continue to drink water or use saliva substitutes as needed for moisture in your mouth.
You may start to feel some benefit in 1 to 2 weeks. However, it may take up to 3 months to feel the full benefit. Tell your doctor if your condition persists or worsens.
See also Precautions.
Sweating, nausea, runny nose, chills, flushing, frequent urge to urinate, dizziness, weakness, diarrhea, and blurred vision may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
This medication may cause an increase in tears. This can be helpful if you have dry eyes (such as with Sjogren's syndrome). Tell your doctor if runny eyes become a problem.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Tell your doctor immediately if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur: slow/fast heartbeat, shakiness (tremor), fainting, lung problems (such as increased wheezing/cough/phlegm), mental/mood changes (such as confusion, agitation), severe stomach/abdominal pain.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
In the US -
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Before taking this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: breathing problems (such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease-COPD), certain eye conditions (such as night blindness, acute iritis, narrow-angle glaucoma), heart disease (such as chest pain, heart failure, heart attack, slow heartbeat), low or high blood pressure, liver problems, gallbladder disease (such as gallstones), kidney stones, mental/mood disorders (such as depression, psychoses, thinking/understanding problems like dementia, Alzheimer's), stomach problems (such as chronic heartburn, ulcer).
Pilocarpine may make you dizzy and cause vision problems, especially at night. Do not drive, use machinery, or do any activity that requires alertness or clear vision, especially at night, until you are sure you can perform such activities safely. Limit alcoholic beverages.
If pilocarpine makes you sweat heavily, drink plenty of fluids so that you do not become dehydrated. If you are unable to drink enough fluids, talk with your doctor immediately.
Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).
Caution is advised when using this drug in the elderly because they may be more sensitive to its effects, especially dizziness, diarrhea, and increased urge to urinate.
During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.
The effects of some drugs can change if you take other drugs or herbal products at the same time. This can increase your risk for serious side effects or may cause your medications not to work correctly. These drug interactions are possible, but do not always occur. Your doctor or pharmacist can often prevent or manage interactions by changing how you use your medications or by close monitoring.
To help your doctor and pharmacist give you the best care, be sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products) before starting treatment with this product. While using this product, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any other medicines you are using without your doctor's approval.
Some products that may interact with this drug include: beta blockers (such as propranolol, metoprolol).
Pilocarpine may cause drugs with "drying" effects (some antihistamines, anticholinergics such as certain drugs for asthma, over-active bladder, and Parkinson's) to work less well. Examples of affected drugs include chlorpheniramine, diphenhydramine, atropine, belladonna alkaloids, benztropine, ipratropium, and tolterodine. These medications can also worsen dry mouth, causing pilocarpine to work less well. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Check the labels on all your medicines (such as cough-and-cold products) because they may contain ingredients that could have a drying effect. Ask your pharmacist for more details.
This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use. Share this list with your doctor and pharmacist to lessen your risk for serious medication problems.
If overdose is suspected, contact a poison control center or emergency room immediately. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center. Symptoms of overdose may include: heavy sweating, severe trouble breathing, severe wheezing, stomach cramps, vomiting, uncontrolled diarrhea, very slow/fast heartbeat, severe confusion.
Do not share this medication with others.
Keep all regular medical and laboratory appointments so that your doctor can monitor your progress or check for side effects. Consult your doctor for more details.
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose and resume your usual dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.
Store at room temperature between 68-77 degrees F (20-25 degrees C) away from light and moisture. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep all medications away from children and pets.
Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company for more details about how to safely discard your product.
Information last revised March 2013. Copyright(c) 2013 First Databank, Inc.
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