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Haloperidol

Generic Name: haloperidol (HAL oh PER i dol)
Brand Name: Haldol

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com on Feb 10, 2020 – Written by Cerner Multum

What is haloperidol?

Haloperidol is an antipsychotic medicine that is used to treat schizophrenia.

Haloperidol is also used to control motor and speech tics in people with Tourette's syndrome.

Haloperidol may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

You should not use haloperidol if you have Parkinson's disease or certain conditions that affect your central nervous system.

Haloperidol is not approved for use in older adults with dementia-related psychosis.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use haloperidol if you are allergic to it, or if you have:

  • Parkinson's disease; or

  • certain conditions that affect your central nervous system (such as severe drowsiness, or slowed thinking caused by taking other medicines or drinking alcohol).

Haloperidol may increase the risk of death in older adults with dementia-related psychosis and is not approved for this use.

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

Taking antipsychotic medicine in the last 3 months of pregnancy may cause breathing problems, feeding problems, or withdrawal symptoms in the newborn. If you get pregnant, tell your doctor right away. Do not stop taking haloperidol without your doctor's advice.

It may not be safe to breastfeed while using this medicine. Ask your doctor about any risk.

How should I take haloperidol?

Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose. Use the medicine exactly as directed.

Taking too much haloperidol can cause a serious heart rhythm disorder or sudden death. Never take more than your prescribed dose.

You may take haloperidol with or without food.

Measure liquid medicine carefully. Use the dosing syringe provided, or use a medicine dose-measuring device (not a kitchen spoon).

It may take several weeks before your symptoms improve. Keep using the medication as directed and tell your doctor if your symptoms do not improve.

Do not stop using haloperidol suddenly after long-term use, or you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Ask your doctor how to safely stop using haloperidol.

Store at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light. Do not allow liquid medicine to freeze.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the medicine as soon as you can, but skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. Do not take two doses at one time.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. An overdose of haloperidol can be fatal.

What should I avoid while taking haloperidol?

Drinking alcohol with haloperidol can cause side effects.

Avoid driving or hazardous activity until you know how this medicine will affect you. Your reactions could be impaired. Avoid getting up too fast from a sitting or lying position, or you may feel dizzy. Dizziness or severe drowsiness can cause falls, fractures, or other injuries.

Haloperidol side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

High doses or long-term use of haloperidol can cause a serious movement disorder that may not be reversible. The longer you use haloperidol, the more likely you are to develop this disorder, especially if you are a woman or an older adult.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • uncontrolled muscle movements in your face (chewing, lip smacking, frowning, tongue movement, blinking or eye movement);

  • muscle spasms in your neck, tightness in your throat, trouble swallowing;

  • rapid changes in mood or behavior;

  • fast or pounding heartbeats, fluttering in your chest, shortness of breath, and sudden dizziness (like you might pass out);

  • cough with mucus, chest pain, feeling short of breath;

  • low white blood cell counts--fever, chills, mouth sores, skin sores, sore throat, cough, trouble breathing; or

  • severe nervous system reaction--very stiff (rigid) muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, feeling like you might pass out.

Common side effects may include:

  • drowsiness;

  • headache;

  • dizziness, spinning sensation;

  • uncontrolled muscle movements;

  • feeling restless or anxious;

  • sleep problems (insomnia); or

  • breast enlargement, irregular menstrual periods.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect haloperidol?

Haloperidol can cause a serious heart problem. Your risk may be higher if you also use certain other medicines for infections, asthma, heart problems, high blood pressure, depression, mental illness, cancer, malaria, or HIV.

Using haloperidol with other drugs that make you drowsy can worsen this effect. Ask your doctor before using opioid medication, a sleeping pill, a muscle relaxer, or medicine for anxiety or seizures.

Tell your doctor about all your other medicines, especially:

This list is not complete. Other drugs may affect haloperidol, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible drug interactions are listed here.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.