SSRI Litigation

Luvox and Serotonin Syndrome

Luvox (generic name fluvoxamine1) is an antidepressant medicine. Doctors prescribe Luvox to treat the symptoms of depression. Doctors also prescribe the drug to treat conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and social anxiety disorder. Luvox patients may see a number of relatively mild side effects, which will normally subside within the first few weeks of treatment. There are more serious Luvox risks, however, including serotonin syndrome.

How Luvox works

Luvox is one of a group of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors2 (or SSRIs). Doctors commonly describe SSRIs, as they can be effective for the treatment of moderate to severe depression in adults and teens. Other SSRIs include Lexapro (escitalopram) and Prozac (fluoxetine). Neurotransmitters are chemicals in the brain, which help manage everyday functions. SSRIs block the reabsorption of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. This boosts the patient’s mood and helps treat the symptoms of depression. There are a number of potential complications from this, however, including serotonin syndrome.

How serotonin syndrome occurs

Serotonin syndrome occurs where there is too much serotonin in the body. This is most likely when there are two drugs in the body affecting the production of serotonin simultaneously. This can occur, for example, when a patient uses Luvox alongside a migraine medicine. Certain painkillers, such as Demerol, or cough medicines may also cause serotonin syndrome if the patient is also taking Luvox or another SSRI. The risk of serotonin syndrome is highest when you first start taking the medication.

Symptoms of serotonin syndrome

The symptoms of serotonin syndrome3 can occur quickly and include:

  • Agitation and restlessness
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and or vomiting
  • Fast heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Loss of coordination
  • Overactive reflexes

Doctors will normally only diagnose the condition if the patient is taking a drug that affects serotonin levels and has three or more of these symptoms.

The dangers of serotonin syndrome

If doctors can treat serotonin syndrome quickly, the patient will not normally suffer any long-term problems. If a doctor does not treat the condition quickly enough, however, it may be life-threatening. Uncontrolled muscle spasms may lead to serious muscle damage (muscle breakdown). When the muscles break down, they release products into the blood, which go through the kidneys. In severe cases, patients may suffer kidney damage.

If you or a loved one suffers an injury from serotonin syndrome, you may be able to seek compensation. Contact a trained attorney as soon as you become aware of the problem so that he or she can give you the best advice.

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