What is donepezil used for?
Donepezil is a cholinesterase inhibitor. It works by increasing the amount of a certain substance (acetylcholine) in the brain, which may help reduce the symptoms of dementia in patients with Alzheimer disease. It is also used for treating dementia (e.g., impairment of memory, judgment, and abstract thinking; changes in personality) in patients with Alzheimer disease.
How should I take donepezil?
Use donepezil as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.
Keep taking this medicine as you have been told by your doctor or other health care provider, even if you feel well.
To gain the most benefit, do not miss doses.
Take this medicine (donepezil 23 mg tablets) at bedtime.
Take with or without food.
Drink lots of noncaffeine liquids unless told to drink less liquid by your doctor.
Swallow whole. Do not chew, break, or crush.
How do I store donepezil?
Donepezil is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store donepezil in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of donepezil that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.
You should not flush donepezil down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.
Precautions & warnings
What should I know before using donepezil?
Before you start taking donepezil, it is important that your doctor knows:
- You are pregnant or breastfeeding. This is because, while you are expecting or feeding a baby, you should only take medicines on the recommendation of a doctor.
- You are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
- You have allergy with any of active or inactive ingredients of donepezil or other medications.
- You have any other illnesses, disorders, or medical conditions.
- You have a heart condition, such as an irregular heartbeat.
- You have any problems with your breathing, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- You have any problems with the way your liver works.
- You have ever had any of the following: a stomach ulcer, a fit (seizure), or any problems passing urine.
- You are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, as well as herbal and complementary medicines.
- You have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
Is it safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding?
There are no adequate studies in women for determining risk when using donepezil during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking donepezil. Donepezil is pregnancy risk category C, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
FDA pregnancy risk category reference below:
- A=No risk
- B=No risk in some studies
- C=There may be some risk
- D=Positive evidence of risk
What side effects can occur from donepezil?
All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:
- Loose stools (diarrhea)
- Upset stomach or throwing up
- Not able to sleep
- Feeling tired or weak
- Muscle cramps
- Not hungry
- Weight loss
Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:
- Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat
- Very bad dizziness or passing out
- Slow heartbeat
- A heartbeat that does not feel normal
- Trouble passing urine
- Very bad belly pain
- Throwing up blood or throw up that looks like coffee grounds
- Black, tarry, or bloody stools
- Very upset stomach or throwing up
- Trouble breathing that is new or worse
- Dark urine
- Muscle pain or weakness
- A very bad and sometimes deadly health problem called neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) may happen. Call your doctor right away if you have any fever, muscle cramps or stiffness, dizziness, very bad headache, confusion, change in thinking, fast heartbeat, heartbeat that does not feel normal, or are sweating a lot.
Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.
What drugs may interact with donepezil?
Donepezil may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.
Does food or alcohol interact with donepezil?
Donepezil may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.
What health conditions may interact with donepezil?
Donepezil may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have.
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. You should ALWAYS consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using donepezil.
What is the dose of donepezil for an adult?
Usual Adult Dose for Alzheimer’s Disease
Initial dose: 5 mg orally once a day, in the evening prior to retiring
Mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease: Maintenance dose: 10 mg orally once a day, after the patient has been on an initial dose of 5 mg once a day for 4 to 6 weeks
Moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease: Maintenance dose: 23 mg orally once a day, after the patient has been on a dose of 10 mg once a day for at least 3 months
What is the dose of donepezil for a child?
The dosage has not been established in pediatric patients. It may be unsafe for your child. It is always important to fully understand the safety of the drug before using. Please consult with your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
How is donepezil available?
Donepezil is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:
- Tablet 5mg, 10mg, 23mg
- Tablet, oral disintegrating 5mg, 10mg
What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?
In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.
What should I do if I miss a dose?
If you miss a dose of donepezil, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Donepezil (Rx). http://reference.medscape.com/drug/aricept-donepezil-343057. Accessed 17 Apr 2017
Donepezil. https://www.drugs.com/cdi/donepezil.html. Accessed 17 Apr 2017
Donepezil for dementia (Aricept). https://patient.info/medicine/donepezil-for-dementia-aricept. Accessed 17 Apr 2017
Review Date: August 29, 2017 | Last Modified: September 13, 2019