Clonidine (A full guide)

Clonidine, or Catapres, is an anti-hypertensive drug used to treat high blood pressure.

The Kapvay brand of clonidine is used to treat symptoms of attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). 

In this blog piece, you will learn what clonidine is used to treat, common side effects, and important information to know before taking this medication. 

What is clonidine? 

Clonidine, or Catapres brand name, is a medication used alone or in combination with other drugs to treat high blood pressure.

Clonidine extended-release tablets (brand name Kapvay) can be used alone or in combination with other drugs to treat symptoms of attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). 

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How does clonidine treat high blood pressure?

Clonidine is part of a class of medications known as centrally acting alpha-agonist hypotensive agents.

It works by decreasing your heartrate and relaxing your blood vessels so that blood can flow more easily throughout your body. 

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a common condition that must be treated.

If left untreated, it can wreak havoc on the brain, heart, blood vessels, and kidneys.

Damage to these organs increase the risk for heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, and loss of vision. 

It is possible to control blood pressure through certain lifestyle changes such as maintaining a diet that is low in fat and salt, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising for at least 30 minutes day 5-6 days a week, not smoking, and using alcohol sparingly. 

How does clonidine treat attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD)?

Extended release tablets of clonidine treat ADHD by affecting the area of the brain that controls impulsivity and maintaining attention. 

What are the side effects of clonidine?

Clonidine may cause the following side effects: 

·      Dry mouth

·      Fatigue

·      Weakness

·      Headache

·      Nervousness

·      Decreased sexual function 

·      Gastrointestinal problems such as nausea, vomiting, or constipation 

Some side effects of clonidine can be more serious.

If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately or get emergency medical treatment:

·      Rash or hives

·      Swelling of the face, throat, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs

·      Difficulty swallowing or breathing

·      Hoarseness

Is it possible to overdose on clonidine?

Yes, it is possible to overdose on clonidine. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the following symptoms, get emergency medical attention immediately: 

·      Fainting or loss of consciousness

·      Trouble breathing

·      Seizure

·      Slow heartrate

·      Shivering

·      Slurred speech

·      Tiredness, weakness, or drowsiness

·      Confusion

·      Cold, pale skin

·      Constricted pupils 

What is some other information I should know about taking clonidine?

It is important for your doctor to monitor your blood pressure regularly while you are being treated with clonidine. 

You should not miss any doses of clonidine. Make sure you have it on hand during weekend, holidays, or vacations.

If there is a chance that you will forget to take your pills on an extended trip, your doctor may be able to write you a prescription that you can take with you so you can fill it as needed when you are away from home. 

If you are taking other medications aside from clonidine, make sure you tell your doctor.

These include prescription and non-prescription drugs and herbal or vitamin supplements.

Over-the-counter medicines for appetite control, asthma, colds, cough, sinus problems, or hay fever should not be taken with clonidine because they may increase your blood pressure. 

Central nervous system (CNS) depressants are drugs that slow down the nervous system and can cause drowsiness.

Do not combine clonidine with CNS depressants such as the following: 

·      Antihistamines

·      Medication for colds, allergies, or hay fever

·      Sedatives

·      Tranquilizers

·      Sleeping medicine 

·      Prescription pain medication or narcotics 

·      Muscle relaxants 

·      Barbiturates

·      Medication for seizures

·      Anesthetics including dental anesthetics 

Certain drugs if combined with clonidine may lower your blood pressure to dangerous levels and cause fainting.

These include the following: 

·      Angiotensin II receptor blockers such as losartan, valsartan, and Irbesartan

·      Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors such as enalapril, lisinopril

·      Diuretics such as hydrochlorothiazide or furosemide

It is possible that you will experience drowsiness when you begin taking clonidine or increase your dose.

Do not drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how clonidine influences your state of alertness. 

If you are scheduled to have any kind of surgery, including dental surgery, tell your doctor or dentist that you are being treated with clonidine. 

If you wear contact lenses, you may experience eye dryness while taking clonidine. Talk to your doctor about how to best treat this dryness. 

If you stand up quickly while taking clonidine, dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting may occur.

You may be able to fix this by getting up slowly if you are lying down or sitting, but if these symptoms persist you should inform your doctor. 

If you take clonidine while drinking alcohol, standing for long periods of time, or exercising in hot weather, you may experience dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting.

Staying hydrated or avoiding alcohol, intense exercise in hot weather, or standing for long periods of time can help combat this issue. 

It is possible to develop allergic reactions to clonidine.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction include skin rash, hives, or other issues typical of an allergic reaction.

If you experience any of these symptoms, stop taking clonidine immediately and contact your doctor. 

Clonidine may cause dry mouth. To get temporary relief, you can use sugarless candy or gum, melt ice bits in your mouth, or use a saliva substitute.

If dryness of the mouth continues for more than two weeks, discuss with your doctor or dentist.

Continuous dry mouth over long periods of time may increase your risk for dental diseases including tooth decay, gum disease, or fungal infections. 

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What happens if I suddenly stop taking clonidine? 

You should not stop taking clonidine without consulting your doctor.

If you want to discontinue clonidine due to unwanted side effects, your doctor may gradually reduce your dose to avoid the risk of serious complications.

If you stop taking clonidine suddenly, your blood pressure may become worse. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about clonidine: 

1. What is the drug clonidine used for? 

Clonidine allows your blood vessels to relax so that your heart can beat more slowly and easily.

Catapres is one the brand names of clonidine and is prescribed to treat hypertension, or high blood pressure.

Kapvay is another brand of clonidine and is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 

2. Is clonidine used for anxiety?

Clonidine is typically used to treat hypertension, but doctors found that the sedative side effects of this drug can also be used to treat anxiety in some patients. 

3. What type of drug is clonidine?

Clonidine belongs to a class of drugs known as centrally acting alpha-agonist hypotensive agents.

It helps lower blood pressure by decreasing heartrate and allowing blood vessels to relax to increase blood flow throughout the body. 

4. What is the most common side effect of clonidine? 

The most common side effect of clonidine is dry mouth, which occurs in about 40% of patients.

Dizziness, constipation, and sedation are also common side effects.

These side effects are usually mild and tend to go away on their own. 

Is clonidine the same thing as Xanax?

Clonidine and Xanax can both be used to treat anxiety, although clonidine is more commonly used to treat high blood pressure.

In addition, clonidine and Xanax belong to different classes of drugs: Clonidine is a centrally acting alpha-agonist hypotensive agent, and Xanax is a benzodiazepine. 

6. Is clonidine used as a sleep aid? 

Clonidine is primarily used to treat high blood pressure and can also be used to treat ADHD.

Although it is not approved as a treatment for insomnia, one of the side effects is sedation. 

7. Can clonidine be abused? 

Abuse of clonidine can be life-threatening.

Although it is less addictive than many other drugs and it is very rare to become addicted to clonidine, it can still cause dependence and addiction.

The availability and low cost of clonidine contribute to its addictive potential. 

8. What happens if you drink alcohol with clonidine? 

People who are prescribed clonidine are advised to limit their alcohol consumption since the drowsiness effects will be enhanced.

Pulse, heartrate, and blood pressure may change as a result of drinking alcohol while taking clonidine. 

9. Does clonidine affect memory? 

A study demonstrated that clonidine does not affect the formation of new long-term memories, but it does impair certain measures of working memory. 

10. What does clonidine do to the brain? 

Clonidine changes certain nerve impulses in the brain which results in relaxation of the blood vessels, which allows blood to pass through them more easily to lower blood pressure. 

11. Is clonidine a narcotic?

Clonidine is an alpha-adrenergic agonist, which is a non-opiate substance.

It has been shown to suppress opiate withdrawal in patients. 

12. Does clonidine work immediately? 

Clonidine needs to be taken for at least two weeks before you begin to see an improvement in your symptoms.

It can take anywhere from 2 to 4 months to experience the full benefits of this medication.

Drowsiness and sedation, which are common side effects of clonidine, may appear sooner and can even appear after the first dose. 

13. Does clonidine help with depression? 

Clonidine can actually lead to the onset of depression as well as other metal health issues such as anxiety, hallucinations, and sleep disorders.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, they should be treated by a medical professional immediately. 

In this blog article, we discussed what clonidine is used to treat, how it works, common side effects, and important precautions regarding usage.

Many important questions about clonidine have also been answered in the FAQs section. 

Want to learn more about clonidine? Try these books! 

Clonidine Hydrochloride, Complete Self-Assessment Guide

This book has extensive details to answer all your questions regarding clonidine.

If you are wondering about drug interactions, allergies, or how to take this medication you can find that information here.

This guide will help you formulate the right questions to ask your doctor and includes room for notes so you can jot down important information during your appointments.

In addition, if you are a healthcare provider and want to make sure you can answer every question your patient has, then this guide book is for you as well. 

Healing Hypertension: A Revolutionary New Approach

Dr. Samuel J. Mann combines medical and psychological approaches to help manage high blood pressure (hypertension).

He discusses how you can tell whether or not your high blood pressure is related to emotions, how to find the medication that is right for you, and how you can work towards reducing your blood pressure naturally.

Dr. Mann uses compelling and instructive case studies, as well information on the latest medical research to give you the best advice on how to understand and control your hypertension. 

If you have questions or comments about clonidine, post below! 

References

Clonidine (Oral Route).Mayo Clinic. April 1st, 2019. 

Clonidine, Oral Tablet.Healthline. 2019. 

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