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What Is Duloxetine Hydrochloride?

By Jacquelyn Gilchrist
Updated May 17, 2024
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Duloxetine hydrochloride is a drug that is primarily prescribed for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and depression. It may be used to treat other conditions, such as urinary stress incontinence, osteoarthritis, and prolonged back or muscle pain. Those who suffer from diabetic neuropathy, which is nerve damage, or fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition, may also benefit from this drug. Duloxetine hydrochloride is a selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) that works to restore mental balance by affecting the chemicals in the brain.

This medication is typically taken once daily by mouth. It is available in an extended-release formula, which means that the drug will absorb gradually in the body. The capsule should never be crushed or chewed and may be swallowed with or without food. Patients may not notice the full benefit of duloxetine hydrochloride until they have continued treatment for one to four weeks.

Some side effects may occur with the use of this drug, which should be discussed with the physician if they are bothersome. Patients may experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, along with stomach pain and heartburn. Decreased appetite, difficult urination, or increased urination may also occur. Some patients have reported night sweats, dizziness, and dry mouth.

Duloxetine hydrochloride may rarely cause a potentially life-threatening condition called serotonin syndrome. Patients with this condition have too much serotonin in the body, which may occur if they take other medications or supplements that increase this chemical along with duloxetine hydrochloride. Those who experience hallucinations, severe dizziness, or a rapid heartbeat should get medical help immediately. Other possible symptoms of serotonin syndrome may include loss of coordination, severe dizziness, and restlessness.

Those who suffer from other severe side effects should go to the emergency room. These may include seizures, unusual fatigue, and weight loss. Unusual mood changes, abnormal excitement, and uncontrollable shakiness have been reported. Some patients have experienced abdominal swelling, blurred vision, and flu-like symptoms, such as a fever.

Before taking duloxetine hydrochloride, patients should discuss their other medical conditions with their doctors. Diabetics may find that the drug affects their blood sugar levels. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use duloxetine hydrochloride. This antidepressant may be contraindicated for use by patients who have glaucoma, coronary artery disease, or liver or kidney disease.

Patients should disclose their other medications and supplements. Duloxetine hydrochloride may interact with tryptophan, St. John's wort, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). Sleeping pills, blood thinners, and aspirin are also contraindicated with this drug. Other medications that can preclude a patient from taking this antidepressant include certain antibiotics, antihistamines, and high blood pressure drugs.

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