What do you mean by Serotonin Syndrome?
Serotonin Syndrome is a rare condition you get when you have too much raise of serotonin levels in your body. Normally, nerve cells produce serotonin and it is a neurotransmitter that sends signals to your body through your brain. Serotonin levels regulate the important functions in our body such as digestion, blood flow, body temperature, and breathing.
Serotonin levels impact your mood and plays a vital role in the proper functioning of nerve and brain cells. If you are taking combined use of medications, it will help to raise the serotonin levels in your body and can lead to a rare condition called serotonin syndrome.
There are many types of medications that can lead to serotonin syndrome such as Depression medications, Migraine headaches, and pain medications. Having too much serotonin levels in your body may affect the functions of the brain, muscles, and other parts of the body.
The chances of getting this syndrome increases when you combine your medications with others or taking different medications together. Your condition will become serious if you don’t receive prompt treatment.
Serotonin Syndrome Symptoms:
You will experience the following symptoms when there is a too much raise of serotonin levels in your body:
- Dilated pupils
- Fast heartbeat
- Muscle Spasms
You may experience the following symptoms if your condition becomes serious:
- Irregular heartbeat
Serotonin Syndrome Causes:
Usually, this rare condition occurs when you are taking two or more medications. Serotonin levels increase rapidly when you combine your medication with illicit drugs or nutritional supplements, antivirals used to treat HIV and AIDS, Prescription medications for pain and nausea.
Following are the medicines and supplements which are associated with this rare condition known as serotonin syndrome include:
- Antidepressants: Selective Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), tricyclic antidepressants, and certain other antidepressants will come under the category of antidepressants associated with serotonin syndrome.
- Migraine Medications: Almotriptan (Axert), Naratriptan (Amerge), Sumatriptan (Imitrex) all these migraine medications will come under the category of triptan and all these medications are associated with serotonin syndrome.
- Illegal Drugs: Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), ecstasy (MDMA), Cocaine, amphetamines all these illegal drugs are associated with serotonin syndrome.
- Herbal Supplements: Taking herbal supplements are good and does not have any side effects but some are associated with serotonin syndrome including St. John’s Wort, and Ginseng.
- Cold and Cough Medications: Robitussin DM, Delsym cold and cough medications are associated with serotonin syndrome because these medications contain dextromethorphan.
How to diagnose Serotonin Syndrome?
There is no specific test that can identify this syndrome. Your doctor will check your medical history and the current condition of your body. You have to be honest with your doctor regarding the illegal drugs you are using or taking any medications. Your doctor will diagnose the disease with the help of the information you have given to him.
Your doctor evaluates your problem by performing some tests including a complete blood count, a blood culture, thyroid function tests, drug screens, kidney function tests, liver function tests, and these tests will help your doctor to rule out other conditions, also to find out if certain organs or body functions have been affected.
Conditions like infections, drug overdose, hormonal problems also have similar symptoms like serotonin syndrome.
How to treat Serotonin Syndrome?
Your doctor may ask you to stop taking your medication if you are in a starting stage of serotonin syndrome.
You have to admit in the hospital when you have severe symptoms. Your doctor will observe your condition at the hospital and may recommend the following treatments for your condition:
- Stop taking the medication that caused the condition
- Intravenous fluids for hydrating your body and control your fever
- The doctor might give you medications to free your muscles and try to control your nervous excitement.
- He might give you medications to reduce the serotonin levels in your body.
Are there any complications associated with Serotonin Syndrome?
Breakdown of muscle tissue because of the severe muscle spasm will further lead to damage your kidneys. The doctors will give you medications in order to paralyze your muscles and to prevent further damage. You are unable to breathe in this condition and the nursing staff will arrange a respirator and a breathing tube to breathe freely.
What is the long term outlook of Serotonin Syndrome?
You will feel much better and won’t feel any serotonin syndrome condition symptoms after the treatment. Because your serotonin levels return to normal once you recovered from that rare condition and the outlook for serotonin syndrome is very good with treatment, but it can be fatal if you ignore the severe symptoms of this condition.
How to prevent serotonin syndrome?
In order to prevent Serotonin Syndrome all you have to do is consult your doctor before taking any medications especially when you are taking a combination of medications. Increasing the dosage levels of your medications also cause serotonin syndrome. It’s better to discuss it with your doctor before you would like to make any changes to your medication.