Clonidine : Uses, Side Effects, Interactions & More
Why is this medication prescribed?
Clonidine tablets (Catapres) are used alone or in combination with other medications to treat high blood pressure. Clonidine prolonged-release (long-acting) tablets (Kapvay) are used alone or in combination with other medications as part of a treatment program to control the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD; more difficulty concentrating, control actions and remain still or silent as other people of the same age) in children. Clonidine belongs to a class of medications called centrally acting alpha-agonist hypotensive agents. Clonidine treats high blood pressure by slowing the heart rate and relaxing the blood vessels so that blood can flow more easily through the body. Clonidine extended-release tablets can treat ADHD by affecting the part of the brain that controls attention and impulsivity.
High blood pressure is a common condition and, when left untreated, it can damage the brain, heart, blood vessels, kidneys, and other parts of the body. Damage to these organs can cause heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, vision loss, and other problems. In addition to taking medications, making lifestyle changes will also help control your blood pressure. These changes include eating a low-fat and low-salt diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising for at least 30 minutes most days, not smoking, and consuming alcohol in moderation.
How should this medicine be used?
Clonidine comes as tablets and extended-release (long-acting) tablets to take by mouth. The tablet is usually taken twice a day at evenly spaced intervals. The extended-release tablet is usually taken once or twice a day with or without food. Take clonidine at around the same time every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any parts you do not understand. Take clonidine exactly as directed. Do not take more or less, or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Swallow the extended-release tablets whole; do not split, chew, or crush them.
Your doctor may start with a low dose of clonidine and gradually increase your dose, no more than once a week.
Clonidine can help control your condition, but it will not cure it. Keep taking clonidine even if you feel fine. Do not stop taking clonidine without consulting your doctor. If you stop taking clonidine suddenly, it can cause a rapid rise in blood pressure and symptoms such as nervousness, headache, and uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body. Your doctor will probably decrease your dose gradually over 2 to days for the regular tablet and 3 to 7 days for the extended-release tablet.
Other uses for this medicine
Clonidine is also used to treat dysmenorrhea (very painful cramps during the menstrual period), hypertensive crisis (a condition in which your blood pressure is very high), Tourette syndrome (a condition characterized by the need to perform movements repeated or repeating sounds or words), menopausal hot flashes, and alcohol and opiate (narcotic) withdrawal. Clonidine is also used as an aid in smoking cessation therapy and to diagnose pheochromocytoma (a tumor that develops in a gland near the kidneys and can cause high blood pressure and rapid heart rate). Talk to your doctor about the possible risks of using this drug for your condition.
This medicine may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before taking clonidine,
- Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to clonidine, any of its ingredients, clonidine patches, or any other medications. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
- Tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: antidepressants; beta-blockers like acebutolol (Sectral), atenolol (Tenormin, in Tenoretic), betaxolol, bisoprolol (Zebeta, in Ziac), carvedilol (Coreg), labetalol, metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL, in Dutoprol), nadolol (Corzide), in Corzide , pindolol, propranolol (Inderal, Innopran XL, in Inderide), sotalol (Betapace, Sorine) and timolol; calcium channel blockers such as amlodipine (in Amturnide, Norvasc, in Amturnide, in Tekamlo, others), diltiazem (Cardizem, Dilacor XR, Dilt-CD, Taztia XT, Tiazac, others), felodipine (Plendil), isradipine, nicardipine (Cardene), nifedipine (Adalat CC, Afeditab CR, Procardia), nimodipine, nisoldipine (Sular), and verapamil (Calan, Covera, Verelan, others, in Tarka); digoxin (Lanoxin); medications for anxiety, mental illness, or seizures; sedative sleeping pills; Tranquilizers and tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline, amoxapine, clomipramine (Anafranil), desipramine (Norpramin), doxepin (Silenor), imipramine (Tofranil), maprotiline, nortriptyline (Pamelor), protriptyline (Vivatilipramine), and sucrose Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you closely for side effects.
- Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had a stroke, recent heart attack, or heart or kidney disease.
- Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. If you become pregnant while taking clonidine, call your doctor.
- Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of using clonidine if you are 65 or older. Older adults should generally not use clonidine because it is not as safe as other medications that can be used to treat the same condition.
- If you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking clonidine.
- You should know that clonidine may make you drowsy or dizzy. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how this medicine affects you.
- Ask your doctor about the safe use of alcohol while taking clonidine. Alcohol can make the side effects of clonidine worse.
- You should know that clonidine can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting when you get up too quickly from lying down. This is more common when you start taking clonidine. To avoid this problem, get out of bed slowly, resting your feet on the floor for a few minutes before standing up.
- You should know that clonidine extended-release tablets should be used as part of a total ADHD treatment program, which may include counseling and special education. Be sure to follow all instructions from your doctor and therapist.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
Your doctor may prescribe a low-salt or low-sodium diet. Follow these directions carefully.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for the one you forgot.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Clonidine may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms or those listed in the SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS section, are severe or do not go away:
- dry mouth
- decreased sexual ability
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately or get emergency medical treatment:
- swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
- difficulty swallowing or breathing
Clonidine can cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medicine.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor can submit a report online to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?
Keep this medicine in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of the reach of children. Store at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom).
Unnecessary medications must be disposed of in special ways to ensure they cannot be consumed by pets, children, and others. However, you should not flush this medicine down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medications is through a drug take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage / recycling department to find out about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA Safe Drug Disposal website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
It is important to keep all medicines out of the sight and reach of children, since many containers (such as those containing weekly pills and those for eye drops, creams, patches and inhalers) are not resistant to children and small children can easily open them. To protect young children from poisoning, always close the safety caps and immediately place the medicine in a safe place, one that is upright and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org
In case of emergency/overdose
In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim collapsed, had a seizure, is having trouble breathing, or cannot wake up, immediately call 911 for emergency services.
Symptoms of overdose may include the following:
- slow heart rate
- difficulty breathing
- slurred speech
- cold, pale skin
- smaller pupils (black circles in the middle of the eyes)
What other information should I know?
Keep all your appointments with your doctor. Your blood pressure should be checked regularly to determine your response to clonidine.
Your doctor may ask you to check your pulse (heart rate) daily and will tell you how fast it should be. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to teach you how to take your pulse. If your pulse is slower or faster than it should, call your doctor before taking this medicine that day.
To relieve dry mouth caused by clonidine, chew gum or suck on sugar-free hard candy.
Do not let anyone else take your medicine. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important that you keep a written list of all prescription and over-the-counter (over-the-counter) medications you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should take this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you go into hospital. It is also important information to take with you in case of emergencies.
Brand names of combination products
- Clorpres® (containing Chlorthalidone, Clonidine)
- Combipres® (containing Chlorthalidone, Clonidine)
Disclaimer: DrLinex has made every effort to ensure that all information is factually accurate, comprehensive and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a licensed health care professional’s choice of knowledge and expertise. You should always consult your doctor or other health care professional before taking any medication. The information given here is subject to change and it has not been used to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions or adverse effects. The lack of warning or other information for any drug does not indicate that the combination of medicine or medication is safe, effective or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.