Clonidine (Catapres): Uses, Dosage, Side Effects, Generics

What Is Clonidine And What Does It Treat?

Clonidine tablets (Catapres) are used alone or in combination with other medications to treat high blood pressure. Clonidine extended-release (long-acting) tablets (Kapvay) are used alone or in combination with other medications as part of a treatment program to control symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD; more difficulty focusing, controlling actions, and remaining still or quiet than other people who are the same age) in children.

Clonidine is also used in the treatment of dysmenorrhea (severely painful cramps during a menstrual period), hypertensive crisis (a condition in which your blood pressure is very high), Tourette’s syndrome (a condition characterized by the need to perform repeated motions or to repeat sounds or words), menopausal hot flashes, and alcohol and opiate (narcotic) withdrawal. Clonidine is also used as an aid in smoking cessation therapy and to diagnose pheochromocytoma (a tumor that develops on a gland near the kidneys and may cause high blood pressure and fast heart rate).

Talk to your doctor about the possible risks of using this medication for your condition. Catapres is available as a generic named clonidine (tablets and patches).

How Clonidine (Catapres) works

Clonidine is in a class of medications called centrally acting alpha-agonist hypotensive agents. Clonidine treats high blood pressure by decreasing your heart rate and relaxing the blood vessels so that blood can flow more easily through the body. Clonidine extended-release tablets may treat ADHD by affecting the part of the brain that controls attention and impulsivity.

What Is The Most Important Information I Should Know About Clonidine (Catapres)?

Although some symptoms may improve within days of starting clonidine, it may take several weeks before you notice the full benefits of the medication.

What Should I Discuss With My Healthcare Provider Before Taking Clonidine (Catapres)?

•          Symptoms of your condition that bother you the most

•          If you have thoughts of suicide or harming yourself

•          If you experience side effects from your medications, discuss them with your provider. Some side effects pass with time, but others may require changes in the medication.

•          Any other psychiatric or medical problems you have, including heart disease

•          All other medications you are currently taking (including over the counter products, herbal and nutritional supplements) and any medication allergies you have

•          Other non-medication treatments you are receiving, such as talk therapy or substance abuse treatment. Your provider can explain how these different treatments work with the medication.

•          If you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding

•          If you drink alcohol or use drugs

How Should I Take Clonidine (Catapres)?

Clonidine (Catapres) is usually taken one to two times per day with or without food.

The dose usually ranges from 0.1 mg to 0.4 mg per day. Only your healthcare provider can determine the correct dose for you.

Extended-release tablets (Kapvay®) should not be crushed, chewed, or divided. Swallow the tablet whole.

What Happens If I Miss A Dose Of Clonidine (Catapres)?

If you miss a dose of clonidine take it as soon as you remember unless it is closer to the time of your next dose. Discuss this with your health care provider. Do not double your next dose or take more than what is prescribed.

What Should I Avoid While Taking Clonidine (Catapres)?

Clonidine (Catapres) may cause dizziness or drowsiness, especially when first starting the medication. Make sure you know how you react to the medication before you drive, operate machinery, or participate in other activities that may be dangerous if you are not alert.

Avoid drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs while you are taking this medication. They may decrease the benefits (e.g., worsen your condition) and increase adverse effects (e.g., sedation) of the medication.

What Happens If I Overdose With Clonidine (Catapres)?

If an overdose occurs, call your doctor or 911. You may need urgent medical care. You may also contact the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.

Overdosing with clonidine may cause sleepiness, dizziness, low blood pressure, and slow heart rate. A specific treatment to reverse the effects of clonidine does not exist.

How Long Does It Take For Clonidine (Catapres) To Work?

It may take four to eight weeks to get the maximum benefit once the right dose is determined. However, improvements in some symptoms may occur sooner. Your health care provider may also need to adjust gradually the dose to find the dose that works best for you.

Can a pregnant woman take Clonidine (Catapres)?

If you are planning on becoming pregnant, notify your health care provider so that he/she can best manage your medications. People living with ADHD who wish to become pregnant face important decisions. There are no well-controlled studies of clonidine use in pregnant women. Animal studies did not demonstrate evidence of fetal harm. It is important to discuss the risks and benefits of treatment with your doctor and caregivers.

Can a breastfeeding woman take Clonidine (Catapres)?

Regarding breastfeeding, caution is advised since clonidine does pass into breast milk. Taking Clonidine (Catapres) may reduce milk supply. There is a report of one newborn baby who was drowsy, floppy (poor muscle control), and had periods of not breathing and possible seizure activity.

What Are The Possible Side Effects Of Clonidine (Catapres)?

Clonidine (Catapres) may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

•          constipation

•          decreased sexual ability

•          dry mouth

•          headache

•          nausea

•          nervousness

•          tiredness

•          vomiting

•          weakness

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately or get emergency medical treatment:

•          rash

•          hives

•          swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs

•          difficulty swallowing or breathing

•          hoarseness

Clonidine (Catapres) may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

What Other Medications May Interact With Clonidine?

The following medications may increase the effects of clonidine:

  • Medications that lower blood pressure or cause sedation (sleepiness)
  • Other products containing clonidine or guanfacine (Tenex® or Intuniv®).

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