Serotonin syndrome is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition caused by the body having abnormally high levels of serotonin, a chemical produced in the brain.
This condition is most commonly caused by people taking certain chemicals or medications that affect serotonin levels increasing the dose of their medication or taking another medication at the same time as their serotonin levels are increasing. Although adequate serotonin levels are extremely important, too high a serotonin level poses a serious medical risk.
Symptoms of serotonin syndrome generally appear shortly after treatment or even after taking a single drug that increases serotonin levels.
They are difficult to ignore and the person may become confused as the heart may seem to be beating or even speed up, the muscles will twitch and there will be a feeling of anxiety and fear known as akathisia. Other symptoms can include severe headaches and sweating. Some people feel cold, shivering and goosebumps.
If these symptoms are ignored and the person becomes accustomed to abnormally high levels of serotonin by taking other medications, they can develop fever or seizures and life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms. He may still be unconscious. These symptoms require urgent medical attention. If they occur, you should contact the doctor for advice on what to do.
Treatment for severe serotonin syndrome may include hospitalization and various medications to calm the muscles. In some cases, serotonin blockers are required, but in some severe cases, paralysis can occur as serotonin levels drop. This can usually be done with a local anesthetic so the person is asleep for most of the treatment. Generally, these treatments are combined with a gradual stabilization of the recovery of serotonin products, although after an incident of high serotonin levels it may take a few weeks for the person to feel fully well.
Certain medications, especially in combination, can cause this condition. These drugs may include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Another class of drugs that can cause this problem are monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or alternatively lithium, a mood-stabilizing drug that can be associated with this syndrome, especially when combined with other drugs.
Other medications that can increase your risk of serotonin syndrome include over-the-counter cough medicines, pain relievers, and migraine medications. You should remember to tell your doctor if you get this condition when you combine any of these medicines.
The problem with this condition is that doctors often combine serotonin-boosting drugs, particularly to treat mental illness. A person with bipolar disorder could safely take selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors along with lithium. Individuals taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors should exercise extreme caution with the over-the-counter medicines they are taking.
Physicians and patients should weigh the risk versus benefit of a combination of multiple factors that could lead to serotonin syndrome. Usually, especially when treating serious conditions like mental illness, the benefits outweigh the risk of the syndrome. Still, patients should always consult their doctor for signs to look out for when increasing the dose of their medication to increase serotonin levels or when taking another medication that increases their serotonin levels, so be on the lookout Cap.