Clonidine is used alone or with other medications to treat high blood pressure (hypertension), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), drug withdrawal, menopausal flushing, diarrhea, spasticity, and certain pain conditions. Lowering high blood pressure helps prevent strokes, heart attacks, and kidney problems. Clonidine belongs to a class of drugs (central alpha agonists) that act in the brain to lower blood pressure. It works by relaxing blood vessels so blood can flow more easily.
How to use Clonidine
Take this medication by mouth with or without food as directed by your doctor, usually twice daily (in the morning and at bedtime). If the doses are not equal, take the larger dose at bedtime to decrease the risk of side effects.
The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment.
Use clonidine regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, take it at the same times each day. Keep taking this medication even if you feel well. Most people with high blood pressure do not feel sick.
Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor. You may experience symptoms such as nervousness, agitation, shaking, and headache. A rapid rise in blood pressure may also occur if the drug is suddenly stopped. The risk is greater if you have used this drug for a long time or in high doses, or if you are also taking a beta blocker (such as atenolol).
There have also been rare reports of severe, possibly fatal reactions (such as stroke) from stopping this drug too quickly. Therefore, it is important that you do not run out of clonidine or miss any doses. Tell your doctor or pharmacist right away if you are unable to take the medication (for example, due to vomiting). To prevent any reactions while you are stopping treatment with this drug, your doctor may reduce your dose gradually. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details. Report any new or worsening symptoms right away.
When used for a long time, this medication may not work as well and may require different dosing or an additional medication. Talk with your doctor if this medication stops working well (such as your blood pressure readings remain high or increase).
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Dizziness, lightheadedness, drowsiness, dry mouth, or constipation may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
To reduce the risk of dizziness and lightheadedness, get up slowly when rising from a sitting or lying position.
To relieve dry mouth, suck on (sugarless) hard candy or ice chips, chew (sugarless) gum, drink water, or use a saliva substitute.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: fainting, slow/irregular heartbeat, mental/mood changes (such as irritability, depression).
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.