Around twenty percent of Americans are known to suffer from anxiety disorders, and the prevalence levels have increased gradually. Types of anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety, panic, social anxiety and separation anxiety. Various symptoms that affect routines, personal life and professional abilities are attributed to these disorders. Among the different medications in treatment regimens, Buspirone is considered as an effective and popular choice. The extensive use of this anxiolytic is best seen in its ranking as the 90th most commonly prescribed medicine in the US. Subsequent sections offer a detailed look at this medication, benefits, and possible side effects of Buspirone to help users avoid complications or mitigate effects.

Overview of Buspirone

The highlight of the medication is its categorization as medication that does not have properties of sedatives or barbiturates. By virtue of its mechanism of action, Buspirone does not result in sedative or muscle relaxing outcomes, making it a better choice when compared with medications that have additional properties including anticonvulsant effects. This medication is a popular choice in the treatment of general anxiety disorders, and is also prescribed for depression as second line therapy. This is prescribed when other medications belonging to the category of inhibitors fail to work effectively.

The mechanism of action of Buspirone includes altering neurotransmitters in the brain, and this is known to help relieve symptoms related to anxiety. Serotonin is known to have a role in various symptoms, including anxiety. The medication is sought after for multiple reasons, including its effectiveness in treating unipolar depression. Anxiety disorders are at times known to be accompanied by unipolar depression symptoms and the medication is often prescribed either as a combination medication with other drugs or as a single medication.

Recommended practices to avoid undesirable effects of the medication  

A significant percentage of side effects of medications are attributed to incorrect dosage or schedule, or wrong practices when on prescription or OTC medications. One of the most common mistakes of users is excessive dosage, or consumption of medications beyond the prescribed period. Drugs purchased in strips or on containers, may sometimes be more than the required numbers for the prescribed period. Individuals are known to disregard the need for sticking to recommendations, and this often results in incorrect dosage. This may expose the patient to the risk of undesirable effects. Buspirone may be taken with food or without food, but it is necessary to stick to one particular form of intake, and not change the manner in which it is taken.

The actual effects or benefits of the medication are likely to be experienced only after two weeks of commencing the dosage. Consequently, it is necessary to patiently wait for the medication’s effects, and not attempt intake of additional dosage in an effort to hasten the pace of outcomes. Patients on the medication are not to consume grapefruit or the juice of grapefruit during the period of treatment.

Ideal dosage recommendations

The actual dosage of the medication depends on various factors, including the age, the condition, other pre-existing ailments and medications in use. Similarly, the frequency of the dosage, the strength of the medication, and the duration of the treatment are all factors that help to arrive at the right dosage for different conditions. Patients recommended oral medications for anxiety disorders are typically initiated on a dosage of 7.5 mg twice a day. This is then gradually increased as per assessment of the treating specialist. Regardless of the condition, the maximum permitted dosage is always within an upper limit of 60 mg daily. The dosage for children will be asper the assessment by the specialist of the condition of the patient.

The need to avoid taking double doses to make up for missed doses

Individuals are at times known to take double doses of medications in an effort to make up for missed doses. This is wrong practice and can result in possible adverse conditions. The probability of missing a dose is high, and it is necessary to follow a simple thumb rule for missed doses. In the event of a missed dose being noticed within a few hours of the schedule, when the medication is taken once a day, the patient may immediately take the missed dose. However, if the missed dose has been noticed when it is almost time for the next scheduled dose, the best option is to skip the missed dose and continue with the next dose. This will avoid excessive amounts of the medication in the body, that may result in possible side effects of Buspirone.

Discernible symptoms of possible overdose include severe drowsy feelings, and loss of consciousness. Patients may also experience vomiting sensations or nausea, with many reporting an upset stomach. The pupils of the eyes may shrink in size as a result of overdose, and patients may experience a lightheaded feeling when rising from a sitting/reclining position.

Commonly reported undesirable effects of Buspirone

Similar to all prescription medications, the anxiolytic has possible undesirable effects that are classified as rare and frequently occurring. The rarely occurring effects are relatively adverse in nature while the frequently occurring effects are mild or moderate. The serious effects include the possibility of pain in the chest, a racy/pounding heartbeat, confused state of mind, low grade fever, sudden depression and overall fatigue. The patient may also have difficulty coordinating routine actions, apart from a numb feeling. There could also be sensations of tingling or pain in the hands or the feet. Outbreak of rashes have also been reported by patients, similar to hives, while others end up with a sore throat. Unusual stiffness in the arms, the legs and uncontrolled movements are also part of the adverse symptoms of the medication.

Mild or moderate effects that are not a cause for concern

Undesirable outcomes that are not serious in nature include abnormally excited state of mind, with the patient exhibiting some kind of restlessness or nervous behavior. There is the possibility of blurring of vision, or profuse sweating without any physical exertion. These effects typically resolve naturally without the need for medical intervention, as the body adjusts to the mechanism of action of the medication. These effects include reduced levels of concentration, possible bouts of diarrhea, drowsy feelings, dry mouth and pain in the muscles. Patients may also experience muscle cramps or stiffness and spasms in the muscles. A distinct ringing sensation in the ears have also been reported in patients, in addition to experiencing difficulties falling asleep. Sleep is also likely to be punctuated with nightmares or dreams, and this may also be a reason for the following day to be extremely tiring with unusual fatigue.

The need for monitoring the outcomes and effects on the patient

It is essential for the progress of the medication to be monitored by the treating specialist, to check the outcomes of the medication and the undesirable effects. The medication is not to be taken with MAO inhibitors as there is the possibility of sudden elevation in blood pressure levels. Similarly, individuals are also advised to avoid consuming alcohol during the course of treatment with the medication. Other medications that are not to be taken along with Buspirone include CNS depressants such as antihistamines, sedatives, pain relieving medications, narcotic analgesics, tranquilizers, barbiturates, dental anesthetics, and seizure medications.

Avoid withdrawal symptoms and side effects of Buspirone

The medication is also not to be stopped abruptly as this can trigger withdrawal symptoms in patients. It is necessary to gradually taper the dosage before complete discontinuation of medication, as per recommendations of the specialist. Symptoms likely to be experienced as a result of abrupt discontinuation include increased anxiety, burning sensations, dizzy feelings, throbbing headache, and state of nervousness.  The patient is likely to be easily irritable, experience feelings of nausea, apart from muscle cramps. Difficulty in falling asleep and profuse sweating are other symptoms associated with abrupt discontinuation of the medication.

Other documented undesirable effects of the medication

Other documented undesirable effects of the medication include the possibility of allergies, and drug interactions with other medications. Patients with a history of allergies to preservatives, certain food products, or dyes may experience allergic reactions to the medication; and are expected to inform the treating specialist of the same. Certain medications are likely to trigger drug interactions, due to the conflicting nature of mechanisms of action. The decisions of the doctors may depend on the actual interaction; in some circumstances, interacting medications may not be prescribed, whereas in certain special circumstances, it may be necessary to take both the medications with staggered time of intake or modified dosage.

For instance, patients on medications such as Isocarboxazid or Linezolid may not be prescribed Buspirone as the interactions are likely to be severe. Other medications such as Alfentanil, Almotriptan, and Alprazolam, despite the interactions, may be prescribed with Buspirone, with modified dosages or altered schedules to lessen the impact of the interactions. Medications that belong to this category figure in a long list and patients are advised to seek medical advice about the same.

Patients in high-risk categories of undesirable outcomes

Patients with certain ailments or health conditions are at increased risk of experiencing possible undesirable outcomes of the medication. For instance, individuals with impaired renal functions are advised to be specially evaluated by the doctor before taking the medication. The ability of the kidneys to process drugs are also likely to be affected with advancing age, and elderly patients are to seek advice regarding dosage and schedule. Similarly, patients with existing liver problems are also likely to be at risk of experiencing undesirable outcomes, as the medication may remain in the body for a longer time, exposing the patient to increased side effects.

Simple precautions to avoid untoward incidents when on Buspirone

As the medication is likely to cause drowsiness and may impact the alertness of patients, it is important that working professionals avoid certain responsibilities. For instance, operating heavy machinery, or working in hazardous environments are to be avoided during the course of treatment, as slower reflexes may result in incidents. Similarly, all patients on the medication are advised to avoid driving or riding as the ability to control vehicles in fast moving traffic may be compromised, and this may result in possible accidents.

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