Clonidine is the generic name for Dixarit, a medicine used to reduce blood pressure, certain menopausal symptoms and to prevent migraines. The active ingredient in this medication is clonidine, which belongs to the group of medicines known as vasodilators or antihypertensives. These dilate (open) and relax the blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more easily, and therefore the heart does not have to work as hard to pump the blood around the body. Clonidine is a prescription medication that is used to reduce high blood pressure (hypertension) and some symptoms of the menopause (hot flushes and night sweats), and to prevent migraines. It is sometimes produced under the brand name Dixarit.
What is clonidine?
Clonidine is the generic name for Dixarit, a medicine used to reduce blood pressure, certain menopausal symptoms and to prevent migraines. The active ingredient in this medication is clonidine, which belongs to the group of medicines known as vasodilators or antihypertensives. These dilate (open) and relax the blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more easily, and therefore the heart does not have to work as hard to pump the blood around the body.
When is clonidine used?
Clonidine is mainly used to treat high blood pressure and for menopausal women who suffer from hot flushes and night sweats. Women tend to go through the menopause (sometimes referred to as the change of life) at about 50 years of age. Some are able to cope with the symptoms well and do not need to take any medication, while others can suffer from hot flushes and night sweats. These symptoms can be very unpleasant and embarrassing for a woman and can begin years or months before she fully goes through the menopause. The night sweats can also occur as excessive sweating during the day, even in a cold environment. These changes in the body are caused by the levels of the hormone oestrogen reducing in a woman’s body as she gets older.
Hormone replacement treatment (HRT) can be a solution for women who feel they are unable to deal with their menopausal symptoms, but not everyone wants or is able to take HRT. For example, there are certain types of hormone-related cancer where it is not possible to take HRT. Clonidine can help relieve the symptoms of menopause without the need to take HRT. It is also used (often in conjunction with other medication) to treat high blood pressure (hypertension). If you have high blood pressure, your heart has to work harder than usual to pump the blood around your body. If you have high blood pressure for a prolonged period of time, a heart attack, heart failure, stroke or kidney failure can occur as high blood pressure can cause the arteries and heart not to function correctly.
You may not realise you have high blood pressure and you may only have discovered it in a routine check for something else. You may also feel fine when taking clonidine for high blood pressure. Even if you do, it is important to continue with the medication as instructed by your doctor. Clonidine can reduce high blood pressure, thus helping to prevent the above- mentioned health problems. It does not cure the problem but can help control it. In some cases, people have to take blood pressure-lowering medication for the rest of their lives once it is discovered they have high blood pressure. Clonidine is also used to prevent migraines and strong, persistent and recurring headaches. A migraine can last several hours or days, and a severe one makes it virtually impossible to do anything, while light, noise and stress can bring them on and make them worse.
When a person suffers a migraine, it is believed that the blood vessels in the brain expand and therefore cause the pain. Clonidine can prevent these changes in the blood vessels. It is also sometimes used to help a person deal with the withdrawal symptoms of opioid (drug) addiction as it can help reduce the length of detoxification time by blocking the chemicals in the brain that cause withdrawal symptoms such as hot flushes, sweating, restlessness and watery eyes. It also assists with the toleration of the withdrawal symptoms, making it less likely a person will return to taking opioids.
How do you use clonidine?
There are different forms of clonidine, namely tablets, patches, injections and oral suspension.
The clonidine tablets should be taken with water, with or without food. You should swallow the tablet whole and not chew it. You must follow the instructions of your doctor on how many clonidine tablets to take.
What dosages are there?
Clonidine tablets come in 25 microgram form. The usual dosage for tablets when starting this medication to reduce high blood pressure is 50 micrograms (two tablets) twice a day. However, to reduce blood pressure your doctor may alter the dose after a short period of time to suit your individual needs. You may find they change your dose several times until your body is comfortable with this medication. It is essential to follow the instructions of your doctor when taking this medicine.
You should not stop taking clonidine suddenly as this may cause a sudden increase in your blood pressure and other side effects. To stop treatment with clonidine, the dosage should be gradually reduced over an agreed time period that you have discussed with your doctor. The dosage mentioned above is also common for menopausal women. This dosage and article refer only to clonidine tablets, not the patches, injections or oral suspension.
Do not take extra tablets if you feel the clonidine is not working as it can sometimes take 2-4 weeks before you see the effect of taking this medication. If you have any doubts at all when taking clonidine tablets, you should talk to your doctor. If you miss a dose, take the missed tablets as soon as you remember. However, if it is near the time for you to take the next dose, do not take the missed dose and continue with your usual dose. If you forget to take more than one dose, you should talk to your doctor and have your blood pressure taken as you could experience serious side effects and your blood pressure may rise rapidly.
What are the side effects of clonidine?
As with all medicines, clonidine may cause side effects for some people. Some of the possible side effects are:
- Feeling dizzy and lightheaded (especially when you stand up because of a sudden drop in your blood pressure);
- Being tired and feeling as if you are sedated;
- Dry mouth;
- Feeling sick and/or vomiting;
- Loss of appetite;
- Difficulty sleeping;
- Erectile dysfunction (impotence).
These side effects are listed for your information only. You may not suffer from any of them if you take clonidine. For a full list of the possible side effects, please see the package leaflet. If you do experience any side effects, they may only be mild and last a short time until your body adjusts to the medication. If you are concerned about side effects, you should talk to your doctor, but do not stop taking clonidine without their advice.
When should you not use clonidine?
You should not take clonidine if you are allergic to any of the ingredients listed on the package leaflet, or have a slow heart rate (arrhythmia).
You should not use clonidine if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant in the future or breastfeeding. It is not advisable to drink alcohol when you are taking clonidine as it can make feelings of dizziness and drowsiness worse. This can also occur if you are taking certain antidepressants or sleeping medication. It is important to tell your doctor if you are taking any other medicines, including herbal medicines, before you take clonidine. You should not drive or operate machinery if you experience tiredness or dizziness when taking clonidine.
Does clonidine interact with other medication?
As with all medicines, clonidine may interact with other medication you are taking. It is important to tell your doctor about any medicines you are taking before taking clonidine, no matter what they are. You should advise your doctor before taking clonidine if you are taking:
- Medicines that make you drowsy;
- Mental illness medicines;
- Diuretics (water tablets);
- Any other vasodilator medication;
- Cardiac glycosides;
- Medication to lower blood pressure.
Of particular note is that if clonidine is taken in combination with beta-blockers, there is a serious risk of a rapid rise in blood pressure if you stop taking the clonidine suddenly. If you are going to stop the treatment, you must follow the advice of your doctor. It is usual to stop taking the beta-blockers a few days before slowly phasing out clonidine tablets. It is important to note that some antidepressants may reduce the effectiveness of clonidine. You should particularly follow the advice of your doctor if taking antidepressants and clonidine, as suddenly stopping clonidine tablets can cause a rapid rise in blood pressure.
Where can you buy clonidine?
Clonidine can only be prescribed by a doctor. You cannot buy it over the counter in a pharmacy.
Can you get clonidine without a prescription?
No, you cannot get clonidine without a prescription.
Juergens, J. (2019, July 16). Clonidine. Retrieved 25 August, 2019 from https://www.addictioncenter.com/treatment/medications/Clonidine/
Package leaflet. Dixarit® Tablets 25 micrograms (Clonidine hydrochloride). April, 2014. Retrieved 25 August, 2019 from https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/docomimg2.s3.amazonaws.com/leaflets/en/patient_information_leaflet-3577-dixarit-uk.pdf-1510756509.pdf