What Is Benztropine?

K.C. Bruning

Benztropine, also known as benzatropine, is a drug commonly used to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, akthaisia, and dystonia. It is also often used to counteract some of the side effects of other drugs such as antipsychotics. Whatever the reason it is prescribed, it treats similar issues, such as muscle control problems, spasms, and stiffness. It can also provide relief from excess production of saliva and sweat. The overall effect of taking the drug is to relax the body and enable smooth, regular movement.

Benztropine is commonly used to treat the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
Benztropine is commonly used to treat the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

The drug, which is a member of the anticholinergics class, works by holding off the effects of acetylcholine, which is a chemical in the central and peripheral portions of the nervous system. Benztropine also has antihistamine properties, which help with overproduction of fluids. It also contains a dopamine reuptake inhibitor which works to calm the nerves.

Depending on the patient’s condition, benztropine can be administered one to four times a day. It is typically prescribed to be taken with a full glass of water at bed and meal times. Benztropine may also be prescribed on a less regular schedule, depending on the patient’s needs. The medication usually takes a few days to reach full effect.

There are several conditions which may make taking benztropine too risky, or at least require special dosage or doctor observation during treatment. Previous or current experiences with heart, liver, or kidney disease can all be problematic. Dementia or other mental illnesses can also increase the risk of adverse side effects. Other potentially conflicting problems include intestinal difficulties, infectious diarrhea, enlarged prostate, and stomach ulcers. Different muscle disorders may also increase the risk of taking the drug.

The less severe side effects of taking benztropine need only be discussed with a doctor if they become more serious or do not go away. They include dry mouth, nausea, and vomiting. Some patients may also experience drowsiness, constipation, and blurred vision or light sensitivity. There have also been reports of strange sensations in the skin such as tingling or warmth and the development of uncharacteristic redness.

Severe side effects of taking benztropine should be reported to a doctor as soon as possible. They include chest or stomach pain, headache, and difficulty swallowing. Patients may also get a high fever, feel confused, or have hallucinations. Any signs of an allergic reaction, including hives and swelling in the areas from the neck up, should receive emergency medical attention.

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