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Most adverse effects are mild and tend to diminish with continued therapy. The most frequent (which appear to be dose-related) are dry mouth, occurring in about 40 of 100 patients; drowsiness, about 33 in 100; dizziness, about 16 in 100; constipation and sedation, each about 10 in 100.
The following less frequent adverse experiences have also been reported in patients receiving Catapres (clonidine) tablets, but in many cases patients were receiving concomitant medication and a causal relationship has not been established.
Cardiovascular: Bradycardia, congestive heart failure, electrocardiographic abnormalities (i.e.,sinus node arrest, junctional bradycardia, high degree AV block and arrhythmias), orthostatic symptoms, palpitations, Raynaud's phenomenon, syncope, and tachycardia. Cases of sinus bradycardia and atrioventricular block have been reported, both with and without the use of concomitant digitalis.
Central Nervous System: Agitation, anxiety, delirium, delusional perception, hallucinations (including visual and auditory), insomnia, mental depression, nervousness, other behavioral changes, paresthesia, restlessness, sleep disorder, and vivid dreams or nightmares.
Gastrointestinal: Abdominal pain, anorexia, constipation, hepatitis, malaise, mild transient abnormalities in liver function tests, nausea, parotitis, pseudo-obstruction (including colonic pseudo-obstruction), salivary gland pain, and vomiting.
Musculoskeletal: Leg cramps and muscle or joint pain.
Oro-otolaryngeal: Dryness of the nasal mucosa.
Ophthalmological: Accommodation disorder, blurred vision, burning of the eyes, decreased lacrimation, and dryness of eyes.
Read the Catapres (clonidine) Side Effects Center for a complete guide to possible side effects
Clonidine may potentiate the CNS-depressive effects of alcohol, barbiturates or other sedating drugs. If a patient receiving clonidine hydrochloride is also taking tricyclic antidepressants, the hypotensive effect of clonidine may be reduced, necessitating an increase in the clonidine dose.
Monitor heart rate in patients receiving clonidine concomitantly with agents known to affect sinus node function or AV nodal conduction, e.g., digitalis, calcium channel blockers, and beta-blockers. Sinus bradycardia resulting in hospitalization and pacemaker insertion has been reported in association with the use of clonidine concomitantly with diltiazem or verapamil.
Amitriptyline in combination with clonidine enhances the manifestation of corneal lesions in rats (see Toxicology).
In several studies with oral clonidine hydrochloride, a dose-dependent increase in the incidence and severity of spontaneous retinal degeneration was seen in albino rats treated for six months or longer. Tissue distribution studies in dogs and monkeys showed a concentration of clonidine in the choroid.
In view of the retinal degeneration seen in rats, eye examinations were performed during clinical trials in 908 patients before, and periodically after, the start of clonidine therapy. In 353 of these 908 patients, the eye examinations were carried out over periods of 24 months or longer. Except for some dryness of the eyes, no drug-related abnormal ophthalmological findings were recorded and, according to specialized tests such as electroretinography and macular dazzle, retinal function was unchanged.
In combination with amitriptyline, clonidine hydrochloride administration led to the development of corneal lesions in rats within 5 days.
Last reviewed on RxList: 1/24/2011
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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