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Orlistat is a prescription approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This is used to aid weight loss in people who are overweight or obese.  Orlistat is also used in people with the risk factors for obesity-related disease such as high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes, and raised cholesterol.

Obesity or overweight

This is a complex that involves an excessive amount of body fat. Being obese is not just a cosmetic concern but a medical problem that increases your risk for other disease. There are many reasons why some people have difficulty avoiding obesity. Usually, obesity results from a combination of inherited factors, combined with the environment and personal diet and exercise choices. Obesity is diagnosed when your body mass index (BMI) is 30 or higher. Though there are behavioral, genetic, metabolic and hormonal influences on body weight, obesity happens when you take in more calories than you burn. It may be through exercise or normal daily activities. Your body stores these excess calories as fat.

High blood pressure is a common condition in which the long-term force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems. Blood pressure is determined both by the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries and the amount of blood your heart pumps. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure. You can have high blood pressure for years without any symptoms. Even without symptoms, damage to blood vessels and your heart continues and can be detected. Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk of serious health problems. High blood pressure usually progresses over many years and affects almost everyone. By chance, this condition can be easily identified. And once you know you have high blood pressure, you can work with your doctor to control it.

Type-2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way your body metabolizes sugar. Sugar is an important source of fuel for your body. With this condition, your body either resists the effects of insulin or does not make enough insulin to make normal glucose levels. Signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes often develop slowly. It may include:

  • Unintended weight loss
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased hunger
  • Increase thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Slow-healing sores
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent infections
  • Areas of darkened skin usually in the armpits and neck

Raised cholesterol or high cholesterol

Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood. Your body needs it to build healthy cells. But, high levels of cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease. With high cholesterol, you can develop fatty deposits in your blood vessels. Eventually, these deposits develop and make it hard for enough blood to flow through your arteries. Sometimes, those deposits can break suddenly and form a clot that causes a heart attack or stroke. High cholesterol can be inherited, but it’s often the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices. A healthy diet, regular exercise and sometimes medication can help reduce high cholesterol.

How does the medicine works?

Orlistat is a type of medicine called a lipase inhibitor. It works by decreasing the absorption of fat that you eat. This is not absorbed into the bloodstream, but works locally in the stomach and small intestine. Here, it prevents the action of two enzymes called gastric and pancreatic lipases that are found in the digestive juices. These enzymes usually break down fats that we consume in our diet into molecules that are small enough to be absorbed from the gut into the bloodstream.

Orlistat is taken at mealtimes to prevent fat that is eaten in the meals from being broken down and absorbed by the body. This means the body cannot use the fat as a source of energy or convert it into fat tissue. Instead, the fat passes though the gut and is excreted in the faeces. This helps weight loss.

How To Use

Orlistat should be used together with exercise and a reduced calorie, lower fat diet. Approximately, 30 % of your daily calories should come from fat. Your daily intake of fat, carbohydrate and protein should be spread evenly over your three main meals. The actual calorie intake and fat consumption that you should follow will depend on your initial weight and level of physical activity. Your doctor may ask you to stop treatment if you have been unable to lose at least five% of your body weight after 12 weeks of taking Orlistat.

One capsule should be taken right away before, during, or up to one hour after each main meal. If a meal is missed or contains no fat, you should leave out the dose. This is because the medicine will have no effect if no fat has been consumed. Each capsule should be swallowed whole with a full glass of water. Do not take more than three capsules per day. Higher doses are no more effective.

What are the side effects?

  • Oily spotting on underwear
  • Urgent bowel movements
  • Increased number of bowel movements
  • Fatty or oily stools
  • Inability to control bowel movements
  • Gas with discharge  
  • Stomach pain
  • Jaundice
  • Loose stools
  • Nausea
  • Clay-colored stools
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Rectal pain
  • Weakness
  • Dark urine
  • Problems with your teeth or gums
  • Itching
  • Cold symptoms
  • Headache
  • Skin rash
  • Back pain

Stop using Orlistat and call your doctor at once if you have:

  • Severe stomach pain or pain in your lower back
  • Blood in your urine or difficult urination
  • Kidney problems (little or no urinating, feeling tired, or swelling in your feet or ankles)

Warnings and Precautions

Before taking Orlistat;

  • It is important to follow a reduced fat and lower calorie diet while you are taking this medicine. If you take Orlistat with a meal that is very high in fat you are more likely to experience digestive side effects.
  • This may potentially decrease the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins from the gut. To make sure you are still getting adequate nutrition your diet should be rich in fruit and vegetables. Your doctor may also recommend a multivitamin supplement. If you do take a multivitamin supplement, it should be taken at least 2 hours after your Orlistat dose or at bedtime.
  • If you experience any severe or persistent rectal bleeding while taking Orlistat you should consult your doctor so that this can be investigated.

This medicine should not be taken by people;

  • Who suffer a long-term condition in which the gut does not absorb enough nutrients
  • In whom the normal flow of bile from the liver to the intestines is blocked

This medicine should be used with caution in people with;

  • Long-term kidney disease