A class of medications known as beta blockers are widely administered for the treatment of hypertension (i.e., high level of blood pressure). You may also be advised to take these drugs for case management of cardiac congestion, showing up as erratic heartbeats as well as pain in chest due to cardiac conditions. However, introduction of more efficient drugs such as calcium channel blocking drugs, ACE inhibiting medications, blockers of angiotensin-receptors as well as diuretics (water pills) has limited the use of beta blocking drugs. Doctors do prescribe these drugs as a way to manage high levels of blood pressure. Atenolol is a beta-blocker made popular by doctors treating hypertension. The drug may lead to a few undesired side effects. It is important for you to know the reactions and adverse effects of this drug before starting to take it.
Atenolol belongs to a family of drugs called beta blockers, used mainly for hypertension, cardiac conditions and for safeguarding you from a likely recurrence of a cardiac arrest. The drug blocks the receptors present in cardiac muscles as well as blood vessels, and thus reduces stressful responses. There are multiple types of beta receptors; these drugs focus on the receptors located in your heart muscles and arteries. In order to trigger a do-or-die kind of response, these receptors need to get bound to adrenaline or epinephrine. Atenolol prevents this binding and averts a likely build-up of blood pressure which can potentially harm your cardiac muscles.
Owing to its properties, atenolol is used for a variety of conditions such as chest pain (angina), myocardial-infarction, ventricular-tachycardia, elongated QT-syndrome, a few renal conditions, etc. This drug is administered to avert possible fatal-outcomes among people who have experienced a cardiac arrest. In some instances, this drug has been used to treat symptoms and signs triggered by withdrawal of alcohol among people who abuse such substances.
Dosage of atenolol
This drug is taken orally before or after a meal. The usual dose is once or twice every day. Your physician may decide on the dosage level based on your clinical condition and how well your body reacts to its dosage. In general, your doctor will tell you to take this drug at the same timeslot each day; it is also recommended to take it regularly without a break. As blood pressure build-up can be silent and may show up without any characteristic signs of sickness, a continual intake of this drug is highly recommended.
You may need to consume it for at least 10 days or more for its remedial actions to show up. However, if your blood pressure remains at a fairly higher level – even after taking it for more than 2 weeks, you need to report about this condition to your physician. This drug – as mentioned above –is also taken to treat angina or chest pain; if you are not finding relief from such pains after taking atenolol, your doctor must know about such persistent discomforts.
Side effects of atenolol
Atenolol may trigger a few minor side effects. But, you need to note that your physician has prescribed this drug as its remedial-benefits far exceed the risks of its side effects. Some of the most common side effects of this drug include spells of tiredness, feeling dizzy, discomforts such as nausea, being lightheaded, etc. These discomforts are however experienced only over the short term; once your body gets used to this drug, most of these side effects may cease to show up. Your doctor may also advise you with needful instructions to overcome some of them. For instance, it is highly recommended to shift positions slowly if you are feeling dizzy or lightheaded. Such slow shifting of positions is advised when you stand up from a sleeping or seated posture.
Atenolol may also restrict the flow of blood to your limbs, mainly to your feet and arms. As an outcome, you may develop a cold sensation in your fingertips and toes. Your doctor may advise you to quit smoking while taking atenolol. As the use of tobacco is likely to block the flow of blood to your fingertips, it is strongly recommended to stay away from smoking. As an added precaution, you are advised to wear clothes that can add warmth.
Serious reactions and side effects of atenolol
This drug is unlikely to trigger major side effects. However, if you experience discomforts such as slowing down of heartrate, feeling an excessive spell of dizziness, respiratory problems, cardiac arrest, etc., you need to report about them to your treating doctor. You can identity a possible incidence of a cardiac arrest or heart attack though a few signs; common signs include an inexplicable increase in bodyweight, gasping for breath, inflammation of feet or ankles, etc. A few people have reported other serious discomforts such as formation of a bluish tint on their toes and fingertips, incidence of mental conditions such as mood shifts, depression or being in a confused state of mind.
Allergies and hypersensitivity to atenolol
People who have known allergies or hypersensitivity to atenolol must inform their doctor about such prior conditions. In some very rare circumstances, this drug is known to have triggered a few serious allergies including rashes on skin, respiratory troubles, inflammation of body parts, persistent spell of itchiness, etc. You also need to note that the abovementioned list of discomforts does not constitute a complete list of allergies and side effects. In the event of noticing new signs or symptoms, you need to promptly inform about them to your treating physician as well as pharmacist. It is possible that a few people may have unknown allergies to a few not-so-active or passive ingredients present in atenolol. It is possible for such inactive substances to trigger a few adverse reactions or allergies.
An overdose of atenolol and likely side effects
Those who have skipped a dose and intend taking a double-dose of atenolol are likely to encounter a risk of an overdose. So, if you have forgotten to have a dose, it is strongly recommended not to take a dual dose. Talk to your pharmacist if you have forgotten a dose or a series of doses; you may need a reschedule of your dosage plan if you have forgotten several doses continuously. An overdosed condition may lead to a few adverse side effects such as passing out, respiratory disorders, weariness, feeling dizzy, slowing down of pulse rates, etc. In such instances, you are advised to call 911 or a local poison control center in the US. If you are a resident of Canada, contact Health Canada or reach the nearest poison control center as promptly as possible.
Side effects caused by interactions with other drugs
Co-administration of drugs may often lead to a host of adverse side effects. It is a good practice to make a list of all the medications you are currently taking. While compiling the list, care to include over the counter drugs, prescription medications as well as herbal supplements. Once you have shared the list of drugs you currently take, never abruptly discontinue or suddenly stop taking the drugs in your list. It is recommended to talk to your physician before stopping to consume the drugs in your list.
Exert needful caution over drugs that can increase your blood pressure levels as well as those raising your pulse rates. An added level of caution is needed if you are taking non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as naproxen, ibuprofen, etc. Atenolol can interact with drugs like fingolimod (used for the prevention of autoimmune conditions associated with your lymph nodes), dolasetron (administered for the treatment of abdominal discomforts such as vomiting and nausea, especially while undergoing treatment of cancers), etc.
Prior medical conditions and likely side effects of taking atenolol
Presence of prior conditions can also trigger a few side effects. It is important to tell your doctor about your medical history as well as your family’s clinical history before starting a dosage plan of atenolol. You need to exercise needful caution if you have conditions such as vascular disorders or blood circulation related problems, respiratory conditions such as bronchitis, asthma, etc., renal disorders, cardiac problems such as irregular heartbeats.
Those who are diabetic may need to stay extra cautious while taking atenolol. This is because of this drug’s ability to numb the effects of a faster heartbeat – especially if you are experiencing a drop in blood sugar levels. In general, atenolol may find it difficult to exert proper control on blood sugar levels. Your doctor may hence advise you to opt for routine checks of your vital parameters such as blood sugar, blood pressure levels, etc. Your treating doctor may also prescribe needful diabetic drugs or may alter the dosage forms of medications if you are already taking drugs to keep blood sugar levels under control. A drop in appetite levels or a persistent spell of vomiting may lead to a likely decrease in blood sugar. These effects are more pronounced among children. In order to avoid near-fatal outcomes, children need to be fed in regular intervals. If feeding becomes difficult, your doctor may advise an immediate discontinuation of atenolol.
If you have experienced prior episodes of dizziness or being lightheaded, you need to inform about such discomforts to your treating physician. In those cases, intake of cannabis (marijuana) or alcohol can only make matters worse for you. Hence, you are advised not to take intoxicants; if you have a regular habit of taking alcohol, it is strongly recommended to limit its intake. People who take atenolol are also advised not to drive or operate very heavy machines after taking this drug.
Intake of atenolol by pregnant women and those who are nursing a baby
It is a good practice to tell your doctor about your plans to become pregnant even prior to starting your medication plan. As atenolol can harm your fetus, you need to use contraceptives while taking this drug. If you are already pregnant, you need to talk to your treating doctor about using this drug. Similarly, women who are breastfeeding need to stay away from taking atenolol. Intake of this drug by nursing mothers may cause harm to the baby. You are advised to talk to your doctor and pharmacist if you need additional inputs about this drug’s effects on nursing women.
Above all, you are advised to measure blood pressure readings regularly. For this reason, you may be advised to learn how to check your pulse rate and blood pressure at your home. It is also important if you are participating in anxiety reduction or stress alleviation programs; such programs may require a change in your dosage patterns – both in terms of frequency of doses as well as strength of medication. It is not a good practice to share atenolol with your family members or friends who have high levels of blood pressure.