What Is Haldol?
Haldol is the brand name of a drug containing haloperidol, a powerful antipsychotic that is used for the treatment of schizophrenia, delusions, Tourette syndrome and even childhood hyperactivity. Haldol may be injected or taken orally.
Haldol Side Effects
The potential for side effects of haloperidol is plentiful. Milder side effects attributed to the drug include Xerostomia (a fancy term for dry mouth or cotton mouth), pronounced tiredness and muscle stiffness. On the severe side, according to the RX List, the drug may also cause death.
Earlier this year the BBC issued a report that blamed Haldol for worsening Alzheimer’s disease. Since Haldol is routinely used to treat potentially violent Alzheimer’s patients. A drug study showed that in those treated with Haldol, verbal abilities rapidly deteriorated.
Granted, this is not in the same ballpark as Xerostomia, but it poses the question: do the potential benefits outweigh the potentially adverse effects?
Haldol Side Effects versus Benefits Analysis
WebMD lists a number of conditions that should preclude the use of Haldol. Among them are dementia, epilepsy, irregular heartbeats, liver problems and lactation. This shows that using the drug in Alzheimer’s patients was contraindicated.
The Drugs.com web site offers advice with respect to the development of dry mouth; it suggests having a good supply of hard candy to suck on (or ice chips) to overcome cotton mouth induced by the drug.
Even this site is quick to point out that safety of Haldol is not something that can be determined by reading a label. Side effects that have been noted – such as Xerostomia, the development of breasts in men, weight gain and involuntary muscle contractions – may not ever show up in individual patients.
It would appear that Haldol is a bit of an oddity in the world of psychotropic drugs. It works well and may even work wonders, but the severity of its side effects makes it look like a dinosaur whose time has come.
Take for example the clinical trials involving Olanzapine for patients suffering schizophrenia or dementia – as outlined on the Schizophrenia website – and it appears that this drug is safer, even though it also causes dry mouth and a host of others side effects.
Best Course of Action for Patients Suffering From the Dry Mouth Side Effect
Only a physician can assess if the experience of side effects is so drastic that the drug should be discontinued. Other options include a lowering the dose or a switch to a different medication.
Once again, patients or their loved ones are strongly discouraged from taking action without first consulting a trained physician who can advise them on all aspects of the drug’s side effects and also the potential for trying a different medication.
In the alternative, a physician may offer some good advice on how to overcome Xerostomia (a.k.a. dry mouth or cotton mouth) after taking Haldol. In some circumstances, this may be as simple as enjoying hard candies or sugarless gums to keep the mouth moist.