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Pilocarpine is commonly used to treat symptoms of dry mouth. Dry mouth can be caused by conditions such as a certain immune disorder known as Sjogren's syndrome and radiation treatment for cancer. It occurs when the body does not produce sufficient saliva, and can make activities such as swallowing, eating, and speaking difficult as well as simply causing extreme discomfort. Pilocarpine stimulates nerves in the salivary glands, causing them to produce a greater amount of saliva. This doesn't eliminate or treat the cause of the dry mouth, but it relieves the discomfort caused by the condition and makes speaking and swallowing easier.
- Dry mouth
Patients with liver problems may be instructed to take pilocarpine only twice daily. Since increased saliva production requires more liquid, patients must be certain to stay completely hydrated while taking pilocarpine. Dosage may vary depending upon individual factors such as the patient's age, weight, condition being treated, and response to treatment. However, the average adult dose of pilocarpine is 5 mg taken three times daily. Physicians can increase the dose per needed, but the dose should not exceed 10 mg per administration. No more than 30 mg of pilocarpine should be taken in a day.
- Pilocarpine is typically prescribed as a pill or tablet to be taken 3-4 times daily either with or without food.
Pilocarpine Side Effects
Use of pilocarpine can result in some unwanted side effects. If it's been prescribed by a physician they've ascertained that the benefits will outweigh any possible risks. Common side effects of pilocarpine can include:
- blurred vision
- runny nose
- increased urination
Alert your physician if any of those side effects become persistent or particularly worrisome. Rarer but more serious side effects of pilocarpine can include:
- irregular heartbeat
- abdominal pain
- mood changes
- breathing difficulty
Consult with your physician as soon as possible if you experience any of those effects. Seek emergency medical attention if you experience symptoms of a severe allergic reaction after taking pilocarpine.
Some other medications may interact with pilocarpine in a way that decreases its effectiveness and/or increases certain side effects. Provide your physician with a complete list of any medications and supplements that you are currently taking or plan to take during treatment before starting pilocarpine. This allows them to ensure that negative interactions are avoided. Some medications that are known to interact with pilocarpine include:
- beta blockers
- belladonna alkaloids
- parasympathomimetic agents
- anticholinergic agents
Avoid any of those medications while taking pilocarpine unless instructed otherwise by your physician. Alcohol may increase some side effects of pilocarpine and should be used with caution while taking this medication.