Dronabinol is a synthetic form of cannabis that is used for various situations. These include:
- Treating appetite loss in patients diagnosed with AIDS.
- Managing nausea and vomiting in patients who use chemotherapy medications to treat certain cancers. The medication is usually taken one to three hours before the chemotherapy is administered and two to four hours thereafter.
If the following side effects occur when using dronabinol then it is advised to discontinue the medication and urgently consult with the prescribing doctor or present to an emergency room for immediate medical attention:
- Allergic reactions - signs include difficulty breathing, swelling of the lips, face, tongue, or throat, or an itchy skin rash.
- Paranoia and increased anxiety.
- Increased heart rate.
- Unusual behaviours and thoughts.
- Faint spells or feeling lightheaded.
Other less severe side effects of dronabinol which can be discussed with the prescribing doctor include:
- Feeling euphoric ("high").
- Fluctuating moods.
- Generalized body weakness.
- Problems concentrating.
- Tingling sensation in the limbs.
- Ironically, nausea and vomiting.
- Abdominal pains.
Dronabinol should not be used by individuals who have had allergic reactions after being exposed to natural or synthetic marijuana or sesame oil.
Those with the following chronic conditions should make their doctor aware of these issues before using dronabinol:
- High blood pressure (hypertension).
- Epilepsy or any other seizure disorder.
- Mental health conditions such as major depression, bipolar mood disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, or schizophrenia.
- Heart disease.
The use of any other over-the-counter medications, supplements, and natural products also need to be discussed with the prescribing doctor in order that the correct decision is made whether dronabinol can be prescribed or a dose adjustment needs to be made so that drug interactions don't occur.
Dronabinol is a potentially habit-forming medication. This means that the euphoria and muscle-relaxing effects of the medication can make an individual use more of the drug as they seek those effects and this leads to addiction. Therefore, it is suggested that caution is exercised when prescribing dronabinol to patients who have a previous history of drug or alcohol addiction.
If a patient takes more dronabinol that what is prescribed for them, also known as an overdose, the following issues may occur:
- Extreme drowsiness.
- Dry mouth.
- Very fast heartbeat.
- Fluctuating mood changes from extreme mania to severe depression.
- Decreased or no urination.
- Memory recall issues.
- Severe behavioural problems and unusual thoughts.
- Loss of coordination.
- Speech problems.
- Convulsions or seizures.
- Panic attacks.
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