Seroquel (generic name: Quetiapine) is a medication available by prescription belonging to the class “atypical anti-psychotics”. The drug was created and is marketed by AstroZeneca Pharmaceuticals. Seroquel is normally used in the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, but has also been used “off-label” in the treatment of autism, sleep disorders, alcoholism, restless leg syndrome, and post traumatic stress disorder. Seroquel received approval for release from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1997.
Many patients experience sedation and/or somnolence when beginning usage of Seroquel, one of the major reasons the medication is prescribed “off-label” to treat sleep disorders. This side effect is stronger during the first week of treatment, gradually getting weaker as time goes on. Significant weight gain was also noted in some patients taking Seroquel, leading researchers to believe that the medication can expand the patient’s appetite, causing the patient to eat larger meals regularly.
Mild Side Effects
The mild side effects associated with the use of Seroquel include dizziness, sore throat, dry mouth, nausea, stomach pain, and constipation. Patients also may experience headache, blurred vision, anxiety, or insomnia. The more severe side effects linked to the usage of Seroquel include confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, uncontrollable muscle movements, suicidal thoughts, fainting, and sudden numbness or weakness. Symptoms indicating an allergic reaction, such as hives, swelling in the head or neck area, or difficulty breathing, should be considered serious and emergency medical help should be sought immediately.
Serious Side Effects
Recent studies have linked Seroquel to an increased risk of blood sugar disorders, namely hyperglycemia, type 2 diabetes, and diabetic ketoacidosis. Hyperglycemia occurs when there are larger than normal amounts of glucose in the plasma of the blood. The condition can damage internal organs and can be a factor in developing diabetic ketoacidosis. Hyperglycemia is responsible for around 6 million hospital visits every year. Diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which the body fails to breakdown glucose properly. Type 2 diabetes, also called adult-onset diabetes, is considered a chronic condition. There is no cure for diabetes, but symptoms can be managed with dietary planning, medication, and/or insulin supplementation. Diabetic ketoacidosis is characterized by extreme metabolic dysregulation. The warning signs of diabetic ketoacidosis include nausea, deep rapid breathing, an altered state of consciousness, and the smell of acetone on the breath. The common cause of diabetic ketoacidosis is an untreated case of diabetes and is considered a life-threatening condition with a high mortality rate.
Seroquel was named as one of the 6 anti-psychotic medications known to promote blood sugar disorders, obesity, and high cholesterol. This increased risk of blood sugar disorders prompted the FDA to request that the manufacturer add the information about the increased risk to the warning labels of Seroquel. Clinical studies have calculated that the risk of developing diabetes was more than 3 times higher in patients taking Seroquel than in patients taking some older anti-psychotic medications. Physicians have been warned to carefully monitor their patients taking Seroquel for signs that they are developing diabetes, as an untreated case of diabetes can lead to a diabetic coma and/or death.