What is haloperidol?

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Generic Name: Haloperidol Brand Name(s): Generics only. No brands available.

Know the basics

What is haloperidol used for?

Haloperidol is used to treat certain mental/mood disorders (e.g., schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorders). This medicine helps you to think more clearly, feel less nervous, and take part in everyday life. It can also help prevent suicide in people who are likely to harm themselves. It also reduces aggression and the desire to hurt others. It can decrease negative thoughts and hallucinations.

Haloperidol can also be used to treat uncontrolled movements and outbursts of words/sounds related to Tourette’s disorder. Haloperidol is also used for severe behavior problems in hyperactive children when other treatments or medications have not worked.

Haloperidol is a psychiatric medication (antipsychotic-type) that works by helping to restore the balance of certain natural substances in the brain (neurotransmitters).

OTHER USES: This section contains uses of this drug that are not listed in the approved professional labeling for the drug but that may be prescribed by yourhealth care professional. Use this drug for a condition that is listed in this section only if it has been so prescribed by your health care professional.

Sometimes, haloperidol may be used in hospitalized patients who have severe behavior problems or confusion for short periods of time. This medication may also be used to prevent or treat nausea and vomiting due to cancer treatment.

How should I take haloperidol?

Take haloperidol by mouth with or without food, or as directed by your doctor. If you are using the liquid form of haloperidol, use the measuring dropper provided in the package to measure your dose. If you do not have the dropper, ask your pharmacist for a measured oral syringe so that your dose will be correct.

Dosage is based on your medical condition and response to therapy. Use haloperidol regularly in order to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, use it at the same time(s) each day.

Do not stop taking haloperidol without consulting your doctor. Some conditions may become worse when the drug is suddenly stopped. Your dose may need to be gradually reduced.

Inform your doctor if your symptoms do not improve or if they worsen.

How do I store haloperidol?

Haloperidol is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store haloperidol in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of haloperidol 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 haloperidol 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.

Know the precautions & warnings

What should I know before using haloperidol?

Before taking haloperidol,

  • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to haloperidol or any other medications.
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: amiodarone (Cordarone); anticoagulants (blood thinners); antihistamines; disopyramide (Norpace); dofetilide (Tikosyn); epinephrine (Epipen); erythromycin (E.E.S., E-Mycin, Erythrocin); ipratropium (Atrovent); lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid); medications for anxiety, depression, irritable bowel disease, mental illness, motion sickness, Parkinson’s disease,seizures, ulcers, or urinary problems; methyldopa; moxifloxacin (Avelox); narcotic medications for pain; pimozide (Orap); procainamide ; quinidine ; rifampin (Rifater, Rifadin); sedatives; sotalol (Betapace, Betapace AF); sparfloxacin (Zagam) (not available in the US); sleeping pills; thioridazine; and tranquilizers. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
  • tell your doctor if you have or have ever had Parkinson’s disease (PD; a disorder of the nervous system that causes difficulties with movement, muscle control, and balance). Your doctor will probably tell you not to take haloperidol.
  • tell your doctor if you or anyone in your family has or has ever had prolonged QT syndrome (condition that increases the risk of developing an irregular heartbeat that may cause loss of consciousness, or sudden death). Also tell your doctor if you have or have ever had breast cancer; bipolar disorder (condition that causes episodes of depression, episodes of mania, and other abnormal moods); citrullinemia (condition that causes build-up of ammonia in the blood); an abnormal electroencephalogram (EEG; a test that records electrical activity in the brain); seizures; an irregular heartbeat; low levels of calcium or magnesium in your blood; chest pain; or heart or thyroid disease. Also tell your doctor if you have ever had to stop taking a medication for mental illness due to severe side effects.
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, especially if you are in the last few months of your pregnancy, or if you plan to become pregnant or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking haloperidol, call your doctor. Haloperidol may cause problems in newborns following delivery if it is taken during the last months of pregnancy.
  • if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking haloperidol.
  • you should know that this medication may make you drowsy and may affect your thinking and movements. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how this medication affects you.
  • ask your doctor about the safe use of alcohol during your treatment with haloperidol. Alcohol can make the side effects of haloperidol worse.

Is it safe to take haloperidol during pregnancy or breast-feeding?

There are no adequate studies in women for determining risk when using this medication during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking this medication. This medication 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,
  • X=Contraindicated,
  • N=Unknown

Know the side effects

What are the side effects of haloperidol?

Side effects include: Dizziness, drowsiness, difficulty urinating, trouble sleeping, headache, anxiety, and pain at the injection site may occur. If these effects persist or worsen, notify your doctor or pharmacist promptly.

Tell your doctor promptly if any of these side effects occur: muscle spasm/stiffness, shaking (tremor), restlessness, mask-like facial expression, drooling. Your doctor may prescribe another medication for you to take with haloperidol to decrease these side effects.

Tell your doctor immediately if any of these rare but very serious side effects occur: persistent nausea/vomiting, stomach/abdominal pain, yellowing of eyes/skin, seizures, signs of infection (such as fever, persistent sore throat).

Seek immediate medical attention if any of these rare but very serious side effects occur: slow heartbeat, severe dizziness, chest pain, fainting.

A very severe allergic reaction to this drug is unlikely, but seek immediate medical attention if it occurs. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.

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.

Know the interactions

What drugs may interact with haloperidol?

Haloperidol 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.

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with haloperidol. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Antiarrhythmics (eg, amiodarone, disopyramide, dofetilide, dronedarone, flecainide, procainamide, quinidine, propafenone, sotalol), antipsychotics (eg, iloperidone, paliperidone, ziprasidone), arsenic, astemizole, bepridil, chloroquine, cisapride, dolasetron, domperidone, droperidol, halofantrine, ketolides (eg, telithromycin), kinase inhibitors (eg, lapatinib, nilotinib), macrolides (eg, erythromycin), maprotiline, methadone, phenothiazines (eg, thioridazine), pimozide, quinolone antibiotics (eg, levofloxacin, moxifloxacin), terfenadine , or tetrabenazine because the risk of serious heart-related side effects may be increased.
  • Lithium because unexpected toxic effects, including weakness, severe tiredness, confusion, unusual muscle movements, and brain damage, have occurred in a few patients taking this combination. It is not known whether the combination of haloperidol and lithium may have caused this reaction. Discuss any questions or concerns with your doctor.
  • Tramadol because the risk of seizures may be increased.
  • Anticholinergics (eg, benztropine) or carbamazepine because they may increase the risk of haloperidol’s side effects or decrease haloperidol’s effectiveness.
  • Azole antifungals (eg, ketoconazole, itraconazole) because they may increase the risk of haloperidol’s side effects.
  • Rifampin because it may decrease haloperidol’s effectiveness.
  • Anticoagulants (eg, warfarin), narcotic pain medicines, or sodium oxybate (GHB) because the risk of their side effects may be increased by haloperidol.

Does food or alcohol interact with haloperidol?

Haloperidol 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 haloperidol?

Haloperidol 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, especially:

  • Breast cancer, history of;
  • Chest pain;
  • Heart or blood vessel disease, severe;
  • Hyperprolactinemia (high prolactin in the blood);
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure);
  • Mania;
  • Neuroleptic malignant syndrome, history of;
  • Seizures or epilepsy, history of—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
  • Central nervous system depression, severe;
  • Coma;
  • Dementia in elderly;
  • Parkinson’s disease—Should not be used in patients with these conditions.
  • Heart rhythm problems (e.g., familial long QT-syndrome), history of;
  • Hypokalemia (low potassium in the blood);
  • Hypomagnesemia (low magnesium in the blood);
  • Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid);
  • Thyrotoxicosis (overactive thyroid)—May increase risk for more serious side effects.

Understand the Dosage

The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your doctor or pharmacist before using this medication.

What is the dose of Haloperidol for an adult?

Usual Adult Dose for ICU Agitation
Haloperidol lactate:
0.03 to 0.15 mg/kg intravenous (2 to 10 mg) every 30 minutes to 6 hours.
3 to 25 mg/hour by continuous intravenous infusion, has been used for ventilator patients with agitation and delirium.

Usual Adult Dose for Dementia
For non-psychotic behavioral problems related to dementia:
Initial dose: 0.5 mg orally 2 to 3 times daily.
Maintenance dose: 0.5 to 3 mg orally 2 times a day.

Usual Adult Dose for Mania
Oral:
Initial dose: 0.5 to 5 mg orally 2 to 3 times a day
Maintenance dose: 1 to 30 mg/day in 2 or 3 divided doses. Infrequently, haloperidol has been used in doses above 100 mg for severely resistant patients; however, the limited clinical usage has not demonstrated the safety of prolonged administration of such doses.
Parenteral:
Haloperidol Lactate:
2 to 5 mg intramuscular or intravenous for prompt control. May repeat every 4 to 8 hours. Doses up to 8 to 10 mg may be given intramuscularly. Acutely agitated patients may require hourly injections.

Usual Adult Dose for Nausea/Vomiting
Oral:
1 to 5 mg orally every 4 to 6 hours as needed.
Parenteral:
Haloperidol lactate:
1 to 5 mg intramuscular or intravenous every 4 to 6 hours as needed.

Usual Adult Dose for Psychosis
Oral:
Initial dose: 0.5 to 5 mg orally 2 to 3 times a day.
Maintenance dose: 1 to 30 mg/day in 2 to 3 divided doses. Daily doses of up to 100 mg have been used. Infrequently, haloperidol has been used in doses above 100 mg for severely resistant patients; however, the limited clinical usage has not demonstrated the safety of prolonged administration of such doses.
Parenteral:
Haloperidol lactate:
2 to 5 mg intramuscular or intravenous for prompt control. May repeat every 4 to 8 hours. Doses up to 8 to 10 mg may be given intramuscularly. Acutely agitated patients may require hourly injections.
Haloperidol decanoate:
Initial dose: 10 to 15 times the previous oral daily dose intramuscularly every 3 to 4 weeks. The initial dose should not exceed 100 mg and the balance should be given in 3 to 7 days. There is limited experience with doses greater than 450 mg/month. Do not give intravenous.

Usual Adult Dose for Tourette’s Syndrome
Initial dose: 0.5 to 2 mg orally 2 to 3 times a day.
Maintenance dose: May increase every 5 to 7 days to 3 to 5 mg 2 to 3 times daily for more severe or resistant cases.

What is the dose of Haloperidol for a child?

Usual Pediatric Dose for Psychosis
Oral:
2 years or younger or less than 15 kg: Use is not recommended.
3 to 12 years and 15 to 40 kg:
Initial dose: 0.5 mg/day orally in 2 to 3 divided doses.
Maintenance dose: The daily dose may be increased every 5 to 7 days in 0.25 to 0.5 mg increments. The usual range is 0.05 to 0.15 mg/kg/day in 2 to 3 divided doses. There is little evidence that behavior improvement is further enhanced by doses greater than 6 mg/day.
13 to 18 years and greater than 40 kg:
Initial dose: 0.5 to 5 mg orally 2 to 3 times a day.
Maintenance dose: 1 to 30 mg/day in 2 to 3 divided doses. Daily doses of up to 100 mg have been used. Infrequently, haloperidol has been used in doses above 100 mg for severely resistant patients; however, the limited clinical usage has not demonstrated the safety of prolonged administration of such doses.
Parenteral:
Haloperidol lactate:
5 years younger: Use is not recommended.
6 to 12 years: 1 to 3 mg intramuscular every 4 to 8 hours as needed (maximum 0.15 mg/kg/day). Patients should be switched to oral therapy as soon as possible.
13 to 18 years: 2 to 5 mg intramuscular every 4 to 8 hours as needed.
Haloperidol decanoate:
17 year or younger: Safety and efficacy have not been established.

Usual Pediatric Dose for Tourette’s Syndrome
2 years or younger or less than 15 kg: Use is not recommended.
3 to 12 years and 15 to 40 kg:
Initial dose: 0.5 mg/day orally in 2 to 3 divided doses.
Maintenance dose: The daily dose may be increased weekly in 0.25 to 0.5 mg increments up to 0.05 to 0.075 mg/kg/day. There is little evidence that behavior improvement is further enhanced by doses greater than 6 mg/day.
13 to 18 years and greater than 40 kg: 1 to 2 mg orally 2 to 3 times a day.

How is haloperidol available?

Haloperidol is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

Concentrate, Oral, as lactate: 2 mg/mL (5 mL, 15 mL, 120 mL)
Solution, Intramuscular, as decanoate: 50 mg/mL, 100 mg/mL
Solution, Injection, as lactate: 5 mg/mL
Tablet, Oral: 0.5 mg, 1 mg, 2 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg

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.

Symptoms of overdose may include:

  • unusual, slowed, or uncontrollable movements of any part of the body;
  • stiff or weak muscles;
  • slowed breathing;
  • sleepiness;
  • loss of consciousness.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of haloperidol, 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.

Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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