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Precautions and Warnings With Elavil

Some Elavil Precautions and Warnings

Some Elavil warnings and precautions to be aware of include:
  • Antidepressants (including Elavil) may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behaviors in children, teenagers, and adults (see Antidepressants and Suicide for more information). Therefore, you should talk with your healthcare provider immediately if you notice any changes in symptoms or develop any new symptoms while taking Elavil. Some of these symptoms may include anxiety, hostility, agitation, panic, restlessness, hallucinations, extreme hyperactivity, and suicidal thoughts or behaviors.
  • People who have bipolar disorder or who have a family history of bipolar disorder should take special care before using antidepressants (including Elavil).
  • Elavil can make schizophrenia worse. Discuss this with your healthcare provider before taking Elavil.
  • Because Elavil may affect a person's mental or physical ability, use caution when driving, operating heavy machinery, or performing other tasks that require concentration -- especially when first starting the medication or when switching dosages. Make sure to understand how Elavil affects you before performing any task that requires mental or physical concentration.
  • Elavil can interact with certain other medications (see Drug Interactions With Elavil).
  • Elavil may enhance the effects of alcohol, barbiturates, and other medicines that can affect the brain. This may lead to an increased risk of drowsiness, dizziness, suicidal thoughts, and other Elavil overdose symptoms. Make sure to talk with your healthcare provider about drinking alcohol while taking Elavil.
  • Elavil is classified as a pregnancy Category C medicine by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that Elavil may not be safe for use during pregnancy. Talk with your healthcare provider about the benefits and risks of using Elavil during pregnancy (see Amitriptyline and Pregnancy for more information).
  • Elavil passes through breast milk and may cause harm to your baby. Therefore, be sure to let your healthcare provider know (before taking Elavil) if you are breastfeeding or plan to start breastfeeding.
  • If you have a history of seizures, bladder problems, or glaucoma, you should take special care when taking Elavil, as the medicine can make these conditions worse.
  • Talk with your healthcare provider before taking Elavil if you have any heart problems, as Elavil can affect the heart and its electrical system.
  • Talk with your healthcare provider before taking Elavil if you have hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) or if you take thyroid medication.
  • Taking Elavil while receiving electroshock or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) can increase your risk of side effects. Talk with your healthcare provider about these risks.
  • If possible, Elavil should be stopped several days before surgery.
  • Elavil may cause a dry mouth. Sucking hard candy, chewing gum, or melting bits of ice in your mouth can provide relief.
  • The elderly appear to be more sensitive to Elavil, which can increase their risk of side effects, such as delirium and confusion. In these particular situations, a healthcare provider will start people on lower doses of Elavil and monitor them more closely.
  • If you have diabetes, make sure to check your blood sugar levels more often when starting Elavil or changing dosages of the medication. There have been reports of increased or decreased blood sugar levels in people who take Elavil.
  • For people taking Elavil, the skin may become more sensitive to the effects of the sun. Therefore, try and stay out of the sun whenever possible. When outside, make sure that you have adequate protection, such as protective clothing and sunscreen.
  • Do not treat yourself for the common cold, a cough, or allergies without first talking with your healthcare provider. Some of these medicines can increase the risk of developing Elavil side effects.
  • Do not stop taking Elavil without first discussing it with your healthcare provider. Stopping the medicine abruptly may increase the risk of withdrawal symptoms.
  • Talk with your healthcare provider if you have any liver problems, as the liver is important in clearing Elavil from the body.
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