Meds and you

Updated 11 February 2013

Clonidine

Clonidine is a drug originally designed and used to treat high blood pressure. It is nowadays more often used to prevent migraine and other types of vascular headache.

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Clonidine is the active ingredient of Dixarit and Menograine.

General Information

Clonidine is a drug originally designed and used to treat high blood pressure. It is nowadays more often used (in doses lower than those needed to lower blood pressure) to prevent migraine and other types of vascular headache. It is also frequently used to relieve menopausal flushing (hot flushes).

How does clonidine work?

Clonidine relaxes and widens blood vessels as a result of its effect on certain areas of the central nervous system.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: Schedule 3

Available as: Clonidine is available as tablets.

What does it do? Clonidine lowers blood pressure, prevents migraine and relieves hot flushes.

Overdose risk: Low

Dependence risk: Low

Is clonidine available as a generic? Yes

Is clonidine available on prescription only? Yes

User information

Onset of effect: Within 60 minutes

Duration of action : Up to 8 hours

Stopping this medicine: This medication should not be discontinued suddenly without speaking to your doctor. An abrupt stop may cause a sharp increase in blood pressure.

Prolonged use: Prolonged use may lead to an increase of the side-effects seen with clonidine.

Special precautions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

  • You have cardiovascular disease
  • You suffer from depression
  • You have kidney disease
  • You have an autoimmune disease
  • You are taking other medication.

Pregnancy: Avoid. Potential risk to the foetus has been reported. Consult your doctor before use, or if you are planning to fall pregnant.

Breastfeeding: Avoid. This medication is passed through breast milk and may affect your baby adversely. Consult your doctor before use.

Porphyria: Avoid. This medication may cause serious adverse effects. Consult your doctor before use.

Infants and children: This medication is not intended for use in young children.

Elderly: Caution is advised in the elderly, as side effects may be more likely.

Driving and hazardous work: Caution is advised, as use of this medication may lead to dizziness, light-headedness and/or sedation. Avoid such activities until you know how this medication affects you.

Alcohol: Avoid concomitant use of alcohol with this medication, as it may increase the sedative effects of clonidine.

Possible side effects

Side effect

Frequency

Consult your doctor

Common

Rare

Only if severe

In all cases

Drowsiness

x

x

Dry mouth

x

x

Nausea

x

x

Sexual dysfunction

x

x

Dizziness

x

x

Insomnia/nightmares

x

x

Depression

x

x

Rash/itching

x

x

Fatigue

x

x

Chest pain

x

x

Trebling of hands and fingers

x

x

Interactions:

Drug interactions:

ACE inhibitors

Prior use of Clonidine may reduce blood pressure-lowering effects of drugs such as captopril.

Anaesthetics

May add to blood pressure-lowering effect.

Levodopa

May add to blood pressure-lowering effect. Anti-Parkinson effect may be inhibited.

Oral contraceptives

Sedation with Clonidine is more common.

Diuretic drugs

May add to blood pressure lowering effect.

Tricyclic antidepressants

May reduce blood pressure lowering effect.

Disease interactions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if you have cardiovascular disease, a history of stroke, depression, kidney disease, or if you have an autoimmune disease.

Overdose action

A small overdose is no cause for concern. In case of intentional large overdose, seek emergency medical attention.

Recommended dosage

Adults: 50-150 mcg/day in 2 divided doses

Interesting fact

This medication may also be used to ease withdrawal symptoms associated with the long-term use of narcotics, alcohol and nicotine (smoking).

 

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