Healthy Heart

What are the Side Effects of the Clonidine Drug?

What are the Side Effects of the Clonidine Drug?

Key Takeaways

  • For effective management of hypertension, the drug clonidine might be prescribed by your doctor along with suggested lifestyle changes.
  • An overdose of this drug or not enough of it can impact its effectiveness. 
  • Clonidine comes in regular, immediate release tables or extended release tablets. 

Hypertension or high blood pressure is a condition that causes an immense force of blood on the walls of the arteries. This pressure could sometimes be so high that it could eventually lead to certain health conditions. High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of stroke and other serious health issues. One can suffer from high blood pressure for a number of years without knowing, and undetected or untreated blood pressure can be a silent killer.

There are a number of lifestyle changes that are recommended for effective management of high blood pressure. Simple alterations like decreasing your salt intake, quitting smoking and healthy maintenance of your body weight go a long way in managing high blood pressure conditions. However, sometimes these are not enough and have to be backed by some medications that would help in the long-term management of hypertension.

One such medication that is prescribed to treat hypertension is known as a drug called clonidine. 

Why is clonidine prescribed?

Clonidine tablets, commonly sold as the brand name Catapres, are recommended to be consumed as a single medication or a combination drug to treat symptoms of hypertension or high blood pressure. Clonidine is sold under the name Kapvay as well. It is an extended-release tablet with long-term benefits and is used as a part of the treatment plan to manage symptoms of hypertension in many people. Clonidine belongs to a class of medicines that have central action and are known as alpha-agonist hypotensive agents. Clonidine helps in treating symptoms of hypertension or high blood pressure by reducing the heart rate and having a relaxing impact on the blood vessels, which allows blood to flow smoothly throughout the body. Clonidine tablets can also treat ADHD by having a positive effect on a part of the brain that is known to control attention and impulse.

Hypertension or high blood pressure is a very common disease, and long-term untreated hypertension can lead to damage of the brain, heart and other organs of the body. Damage to these organs could also result in a cardiac arrest, stroke or a heart failure, and in some cases loss of vision and other secondary problems. Apart from this medication, lifestyle changes recommended by the doctor must also be followed to treat hypertension.

How should this medicine be consumed?

Clonidine comes in the form of a tablet which is meant for oral consumption only. Ideal dosage of this tablet requires the medicine to be consumed two times a day at specific intervals. The extended-release tablet, which is another form of clonidine should be consumed once or twice a day with or without food or as suggested by the treating doctor. Clonidine should be ideally consumed at the same time every day. Before consuming this drug, it is important to follow instructions prescribed by the doctor with regards to the consumption of this drug. In case you are unsure about certain instructions on the label or on the prescription, feel free to ask your doctor or pharmacist. It is very important to consume the medicine exactly as per the dosage prescribed and avoid consuming extra or lesser of the medicine as recommended by the doctor.

The medicine or the extended-release tablet form of this medicine needs to be swallowed as a whole and should not be chewed, split or crushed.

To start with, you may be put on a lower dosage of the medicine which will be gradually revised and increased by your treating doctor. 

Clonidine helps to manage your conditions of hypertension better, but does not actually cure the disease. The medication should be continued even if you see improvement in your symptoms. Do not suddenly stop the consumption of this medicine without speaking to your consulting doctor. Suddenly stopping this medicine could leave you with some withdrawal symptoms like a sudden rise in blood pressure and other symptoms like anxiousness, headache and severe trembling in any part of the body. Rather than stopping cold turkey, the doctor is likely to gradually decrease your dosage of this tablet slowly over two days for the regular form of the tablet and over a period of three to seven days for the extended release form of the tablet.

What other conditions does clonidine treat?

The clonidine drug is also helpful in treating some other symptoms such as

  • Dysmenorrhea, which is severe cramping in the abdomen normally felt during the menstrual cycle
  • Hypertensive crisis, which is a condition wherein the blood pressure reports a very high reading
  • Tourette's syndrome, which is a medical condition wherein one repeats words and sounds sub-consciously
  • Hot flushes that are often experienced by people suffering from a menopause and alcohol and opiate withdrawal

Clonidine may also be seen as an aid when one is trying to withdraw from smoking as a habit and to treat conditions like pheochromocytoma, which is a tumor often known to impact a gland that is situated near the kidneys and often known to result in hypertension or increased heart rate. 

This medicine could also be recommended for certain other purposes that the doctor or pharmacist feel fit. It is important to discuss the risks associated with the usage of this drug with your doctor.

What are the possible side effects of clonidine?

Like any other medications, clonidine is also known to have a few side effects. Some of the common and non-harmful ones include fatigue, drowsiness, a sudden rise in blood pressure, lethargy, induced sleep, headaches, and a slight abdominal pain felt in the upper side of the abdomen. Other side effects include slight dizziness or a headache.

There is also a risk of some major side effects associated with this medical condition which includes:

  • Symptoms of depression
  • Inflammation of the feels and the lower part of the legs
  • Anxiousness
  • Pain in the chest or a slight feeling of discomfort
  • Decrease in urine production
  • Dilation of the veins around the neck region
  • Sudden confusion particularly about the time, place or a person
  • Dryness of the mouth
  • Drowsiness and dizziness
  • Sudden spurs of increased or decreased heart rate
  • An overall feeling of being ill
  • Skin irritations including itching, redness, scaling or inflammation of the skin
  • Lightheadedness
  • Increased output of urine
  • Sudden feeling of restlessness
  • Trembling
  • Insomnia or oversleeping
  • Changes in the breathing patterns
  • Sudden excitement or feelings of nervousness
  • Weird dreams or nightmares in some cases
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Wheezing

Minor Side Effects

There are some minor side effects that could occur with the consumption of clonidine that may not require any specific medical attention. Most of these symptoms are known to subside as your medical condition begins to improve. These effects may not even need any specific medical attention and typically fade away as the body begins to get used to the medication in the due course of treatment. Your doctor could also guide you on the effective ways of managing these side effects. In case any of these side effects persist or are becoming a cause of concern such that they interfere with your everyday functioning, then it is important to discuss them with your treating doctor. Some of these common side effects include:

  • Constipation
  • Pigmentation of the skin
  • Decrease in sexual desire
  • Dryness or severe itching of the eyes
  • Sudden loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Blurring of eyesight
  • Hair loss or thinning of the hair
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Cramping of legs
  • Muscular or pain in the joints
  • Paleness of the skin
  • Swelling in the breasts or soreness of breasts that could occur in both men and women
  • Sudden weakness