Piracetam has a bitter taste, so swallow the tablets whole. If you are taking liquid medicine, drink a glass of water or a soft drink afterwards.The normal starting dose is nine tablets (three tablets in the morning, three at midday and three in the evening). Your dose may be increased further over the first few weeks.
The most common side-effects are putting on weight and feeling nervous.
|Used for||Used to control involuntary movements|
|Available as||Tablets and oral liquid|
Piracetam acts on your brain and nervous system. It is thought to protect the part of your brain called the cerebral cortex against a lack of oxygen. The cerebral cortex is responsible for your thoughts and actions and plays a role in your movement, reasoning, perception and recognition.
Piracetam is used, alongside other medicines, to treat a movement disorder called cortical myoclonus. This condition causes short jerky muscle movements, particularly in your arms and legs.
Before taking piracetam
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking piracetam it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
- If you have a blood clotting problem.
- If you have any kind of unusual bleeding or if you have recently had surgery.
- If you have ever had a brain haemorrhage.
- If you have been told you have Huntington's chorea (this is a type of movement disorder).
- If you have problems with your kidney or liver.
- If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
How to take piracetam
- Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The leaflet will give you more information about piracetam and a full list of side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
- Take piracetam exactly as your doctor tells you to. It is usually taken two or three times daily. The normal starting dose is nine tablets (three tablets in the morning, three at midday and three in the evening). Your dose may be increased over the first few weeks, and if so, your doctor will tell you how much to take and when to take it. Your dose will also be on the label of the pack to remind you, but if you are unsure about what to do, ask your pharmacist for further advice.
- Swallow the tablets with a drink of water. Do not break or chew the tablets, as piracetam has a bitter taste. If you find it difficult to swallow tablets, let your doctor know, as a liquid medicine may be suitable for you.
- If you have been given liquid medicine, drink a glass of water or a soft drink after each of your doses, as this can help to take away the bitter taste it can leave in your mouth. Do not mix the medicine with any drink or liquid.
- Try to take your doses at the same times each day, as this will help you to remember to take them. You can take piracetam before or after meals.
- If you do forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember (unless it is nearly time for your next dose, in which case leave out the missed dose). Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress.
- Keep taking piracetam until your doctor tells you otherwise. Stopping suddenly can cause your symptoms to return, so your doctor may want you to reduce your dose gradually when this is necessary.
- If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.
- If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable to take with your other medicines.
Can piracetam cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.
|Common piracetam side-effects - these affect less than 1 in 10 people
who take this medicine
|What can I do if I experience this?|
|Increase in weight||Eat a well-balanced diet containing plenty of fruit and vegetables|
|Feeling nervous or shaky||If this becomes troublesome, speak with your doctor|
|Feeling sleepy||If this happens, do not drive or use tools or machines|
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store piracetam
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital at once. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
Do not keep-out-of date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.
Further reading & references
- Manufacturer's PIL, Nootropil® Tablets 800 mg; UCB Pharma Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated November 2010.
- Manufacturer's PIL, Nootropil® 33% Solution; UCB Pharma Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated January 2012.
- British National Formulary; 64th Edition (Sep 2012) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.
Dr Adrian Bonsall