Hot flashes are often linked to dilation of blood vessels; especially, those widening of the arteries that run immediately under the surface of your skin. These dilated arteries remain the main cause behind the many symptoms of hot flashes – such as say, an enhanced rate of heartbeats, excessive spells of sweating, shakes and / or turning chilled. Such discomforts are more common among women at menopause or at their perimenopause stages. Clonidine is a popular drug administered for the treatment of these post-menopause problems. But, what are the side effects of using this drug? Care to know more on this prior to commencing your treatment plan.

Hot flashes are discomforts many women during menopause commonly witness. These spells are known to occur mostly during the night times. For this reason, the condition is also called as night sweats. In the middle of the night, excessive sweating may leave you dehydrated and may wake you up at very odd hours. A few women may witness sleeping disorders owing to such discomforts. As per medical studies done in the US, nearly 8 out of 10 women (after their menopause) are known to live with hot flashes.

This condition which afflicts women who have attained menopause is best described as a feeling of internal heat, accompanied by excessive sweating. Women may also report flushing or reddened faces. In a few women, these episodes may last only for a few days; however, there are instances wherein women are known to live with hot flashes for several years. According to another research, as high as 62% (or even more) of women in the US are found to have this condition. The most common triggers include menopause, surgical removal of ovaries as well as incidence of cancers (intake of chemo drugs) before the onset of menopause.

Treatment of hot flashes

Among those living with hot flashes, a small percentage of women may wait this condition out. But, most women may choose to pursue a treatment plan. Plans taken up for treating this condition include hormone replacement therapy – also called as HRT. For some women, HRT is offered over a shorter span of time; for some – it can last for several months – at times, even for a few years. Long-term plans to treat are known to have greater levels of success in treating hot flashes. As an added advantage, HRT is also known to reduce dryness of vagina, sweating and mood shifts / mental conditions such as depression, restlessness or anxieties in women who have attained menopause or those in the perimenopause stage.

Intake of clonidine for the treatment of hot flashes

The most noteworthy outcome of taking clonidine is a significant drop in blood pressure levels. Active ingredients of clonidine activate a few brain receptors and thus bring about an effect of lower blood pressure. Key chemicals / neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine or renin are secreted at suppressed levels. Such suppression often leads to lowering the tension / pressure built-up in the peripheral area of your arteries. Clonidine also reduces the activation of a few neurons which work as catalysts to make norepinephrine. The sum total of all these reactions is – you tend to get calmer and your anxiety levels are soon under control. Also, your sweating reduces substantially and other signs – such as a faster pulse rate or erratic heartbeats – are also brought under greater control.

Side effects of clonidine while used for the treatment of hot flashes

Clonidine may cause a few side effects in women. Most common side effects include difficulties to pass stools (i.e., constipation), rashes on skin, abdominal discomforts such as vomiting, nausea, etc. as well as frequent spells of headaches. Most of these side effects may cease to show up once your body gets used to the active ingredients of clonidine. However, if one or more of these discomforts is present for a longer time – of say, more than 7 days – you need to stop taking this drug. It is also a good practice to immediately consult with your treating physician as soon as possible. It is considered safe to take this drug before bedtime. In some one-off cases, clonidine may trigger a few allergic reactions; these may show up as inflammation of skin, respiratory disorders or as swelling of organs such as lips, tongue or throat. In some cases, swelling of facial parts – such as nose, cheeks, etc. has also been observed.

You need to remember that this med is sold in multiple forms – namely, as normal release, immediate as well as sustained release. It is not a safe practice to take all forms of this drug at the same time. You are advised to refill the same form of this drug – all through your medication plan. It is likely that women may live with low blood pressure level – especially, soon after attaining menopause or while they are at the perimenopause stage; such people are not advised to take clonidine. Intake of this drug when you are already living with hypotension can lead to a severe drop in blood pressure level. The common symptoms of low pressure level are – dizziness, extreme levels of drowsiness, erratic heartbeat, headaches / migraines, etc. Upon noticing any of these signs, it is important to seek medical support at the soonest possible time.

Women who take alcohol regularly must stay from such habits while taking clonidine. If taken with alcohol, you may feel dizzy or drowsy. It is also unsafe to perform tasks needing high level of mental concentration or focus. For example, stay away from pursuing adventure sports like swimming or cycling; it is equally unsafe to work on heavy machinery or engage in tasks like driving. Talk to your treating doctor or a gynecologist if you witness a very high level of dizziness.

In sum, clonidine helps reduce blood pressure levels and limits spells of hot flashes. Soon after using this drug, there is a marked decrease in night sweats, anxieties as well as restlessness among women – especially, those who have reached menopause. The drug however may cause a few adverse side effects such as constipation, nausea, vomiting, headaches, a few skin conditions, etc. Most of these discomforts may cease to show up once your system gets used to the drug. It is however a safe practice to take clonidine under the guidance and supervision of a qualified physician.

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