Pilocarpine - oral
Pilocarpine - oral
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 right away if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur:
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:
In the US -
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:
This drug may make you dizzy or cause vision problems, especially at night. Alcohol or marijuana (cannabis) can make you more dizzy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do anything that needs alertness or clear vision, especially at night, until you can do it safely. Limit alcoholic beverages. Talk to your doctor if you are using marijuana (cannabis).
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 right away.
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.
It is not known whether this drug passes into breast milk. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor before breast-feeding.
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:
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 someone has overdosed and has serious symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, call 911. Otherwise, call a poison control center right away. 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: diarrhea that doesn't stop, heavy sweating, severe trouble breathing, severe wheezing, stomach cramps, vomiting, 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.
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 October 2018.
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