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Exelon Side Effects

Generic Name: rivastigmine

Note: This page contains information about the side effects of rivastigmine. Some of the dosage forms included on this document may not apply to the brand name Exelon.

In Summary

Common side effects of Exelon include: abdominal pain, diarrhea, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and anorexia. Other side effects include: abdominal pain, anxiety, asthenia, depression, dizziness, drowsiness, dyspepsia, fatigue, headache, tremor, anorexia, diaphoresis, flatulence, and malaise. See below for a comprehensive list of adverse effects.

For the Consumer

Applies to rivastigmine: oral capsule, oral solution

In addition to its needed effects, some unwanted effects may be caused by rivastigmine (the active ingredient contained in Exelon). In the event that any of these side effects do occur, they may require medical attention.

Major Side Effects

You should check with your doctor immediately if any of these side effects occur when taking rivastigmine:

More common:
  • Diarrhea
  • indigestion
  • loss of appetite
  • loss of strength
  • nausea and vomiting
  • weight loss
Less common:
  • Fainting
  • Aggression
  • convulsions (seizures)
  • trembling and shaking of the hands and fingers
  • trouble urinating
Incidence not known:
  • Bloody or black, tarry stools
  • chest pain or discomfort
  • constipation
  • difficulty with speaking
  • drooling
  • lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting
  • loss of balance control
  • muscle trembling, jerking, or stiffness
  • restlessness
  • severe stomach pain
  • shortness of breath
  • shuffling walk
  • slow or irregular heartbeat
  • stiffness of the limbs
  • trouble urinating
  • twisting movements of the body
  • uncontrolled movements, especially of the face, neck, and back
  • unusual tiredness
  • vomiting of blood or material that looks like coffee grounds

If any of the following symptoms of overdose occur while taking rivastigmine, get emergency help immediately:

Symptoms of overdose:
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • increased sweating
  • increased watering of the mouth
  • irregular, fast, slow, or shallow breathing
  • lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting
  • nausea (severe)
  • pale or blue lips, fingernails, or skin
  • seizures
  • slow or irregular heartbeat
  • trouble breathing
  • unusual tiredness
  • vomiting (severe)

Minor Side Effects

Some of the side effects that can occur with rivastigmine may not need medical attention. As your body adjusts to the medicine during treatment these side effects may go away. Your health care professional may also be able to tell you about ways to reduce or prevent some of these side effects. If any of the following side effects continue, are bothersome or if you have any questions about them, check with your health care professional:

More common:
  • Abdominal or stomach pain or cramping
  • bloated or full feeling
  • confusion
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • mental depression
  • seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there
  • trouble sleeping
Less common:
  • General feeling of discomfort or illness
  • runny nose

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to rivastigmine: oral capsule, oral solution, transdermal film extended release


Common (1% to 10%): Hyperhidrosis
Rare (less than 0.1%): Rash
Frequency not reported: Pruritus
Postmarketing reports: Stevens-Johnson syndrome disseminated allergic dermatitis[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Hypertension, bradycardia
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Hypotension
Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Angina pectoris
Very rare (less than 0.01%): Cardiac arrhythmia (e.g., bradycardia, atrioventricular block, atrial fibrillation, tachycardia)
Frequency not reported: Sick sinus syndrome[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Nausea (47%), vomiting (31%)diarrhea (19%), abdominal pain (13%)
Common (1% to 10%): Dyspepsia, salivary hypersecretion, upper abdominal pain, flatulence, eructation
Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Gastric and duodenal ulcers
Very rare (less than 0.01%): GI hemorrhage, pancreatitis
Frequency not reported: Some cases of severe vomiting were associated with esophageal rupture[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Urinary incontinence
Very rare (less than 0.01%): Urinary tract infection[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Elevated liver function tests, hepatitis[Ref]

Nervous system

Very common (10% or more): Tremor (23%), dizziness (21%)
Common (1% to 10%): Somnolence, bradykinesia, dyskinesia, cogwheel rigidity, hypokinesia, vertigo, psychomotor hyperactivity, gait disturbance, Parkinson gait, headache
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Syncope, dystonia
Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Seizures[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Insomnia, confusion, depression, anxiety, hallucination, agitation, restlessness, nightmares[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Application site erythema, application site irritation (e.g., pruritus, rash)
Postmarketing reports: Application site hypersensitivity, urticaria, blister, allergic dermatitis[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Anorexia (17%)
Common (1% to 10%): Decreased appetite
Frequency not reported: Dehydration[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Asthenia, weight loss, fatigue, malaise, fall[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Rhinitis[Ref]


1. Cerner Multum, Inc. "UK Summary of Product Characteristics." O 0

2. Monastero R, Lopez G, Mannino M, Camarda R "Erythematous maculopapular eruption due to rivastigmine therapy." Am J Med 111 (2001): 583-4

3. "Product Information. Exelon (rivastigmine)" Novartis Pharmaceuticals, East Hanover, NJ.

4. Kayrak M, Yazici M, Ayhan SS, Koc F, Ulgen MS "Complete atrioventricular block associated with rivastigmine therapy." Am J Health Syst Pharm 65 (2008): 1051-3

Not all side effects for Exelon may be reported. You should always consult a doctor or healthcare professional for medical advice. Side effects can be reported to the FDA here.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is accurate, up-to-date and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. In addition, the drug information contained herein may be time sensitive and should not be utilized as a reference resource beyond the date hereof. This material does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients, or recommend therapy. This information is a reference resource designed as supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill , knowledge, and judgement of healthcare practitioners in patient care. The absence of a warning for a given drug or combination thereof in no way should be construed to indicate safety, effectiveness, or appropriateness for any given patient. does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of materials provided. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the substances you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.