Beta blocker, represented as β-blocker, is a group of drugs that are prescribed for treating several chronic health conditions. To mention a few, this medication is recommended for the management of high blood pressure or hypertension, chest pain, abnormal heart rhythm, heart attacks, migraines, bronchoconstriction, anxiety, alcohol withdrawal, glaucoma, tremor, and uterine contractions. In medical terms, beta blockers are also referred to as beta-adrenergic blocking agents.
Working of Beta Blockers
A beta blocker works by blocking the effects of epinephrine and norepinephrine hormones from coming into contact with the beta receptors of the body. Beta receptors are of three types, namely, beta-1 (β1), beta-2 (β2), and beta-3 (β3). They are located in different regions of the body such as fat cells, arteries, lungs, heart, kidney, brain, uterus, etc.
Beta blocker basically acts on β1 and β2 receptors, which in turn helps to reduce heartbeat rate and lower blood pressure. Consequently, it dilates blood vessels for promoting blood flow. There are several types of beta blocker; some act only on the heart and blood vessels, while others affect the heart, blood vessels, and air passages. According to the patient's needs, this drug is prescribed in specific doses.
Side Effects of Beta Blockers
Their effectiveness depends on the responses and/or sensitivity of the individual towards the medication and the dosage. Though it is a reliable medication for some diseases, this therapeutic formulation can worsen other health conditions like very low blood pressure, liver disorder, kidney disease, diabetes, asthma, emphysema, and other pulmonary ailments. Considering these aspects, a particular beta blocker drug of a particular dosage may be safe for a person, while it may cause potential health effects in another person. That's why, taking medical history and health check-up of a patient are mandatory prior to prescribing this drug.
On the safety note, the physician is the best person who will determine whether a beta blocker is appropriate for the patient's condition or not. If yes, then the type of beta blocker and individual specific dose are decided carefully. By doing so, the negative effects of this drug can be minimized to some extent. However, as it affects several parts of the body, some mild to severe adverse reactions are quite possible.
Following are some of the reported side effects.
- Increased fatigue and tiredness are two of the most commonly observed beta blocker side effects.
- If the beta blocker is acting on the heart, then it may slow down the heart rate and cause irregular heartbeat.
- After taking this drug, an individual may experience cold hands and feet which is due to lack of blood circulation in these parts.
- Any type may cause dry skin, mouth, and eyes.
- Abnormal bowel movement, particularly diarrhea is also a negative effect of beta blocker medication.
- After taking this treatment drug, some people manifest anxiety and depression symptoms.
- Another common effect of beta blockers is swelling and/or inflammation of the hands and feet.
- In diabetic patients, it may result in abnormal blood sugar levels, usually a sudden increase in the blood glucose.
- A few people complain of difficulty in breathing, shortness of breath, and wheezing after ingesting beta blocker.
- Those who are sensitive to this group of drugs may show allergy signs (skin rash, dizziness, and breathing problem) after taking them.
- In case, sore throat, bleeding, and easy bruising are exhibited after ingesting this prescription drug, call the doctor without delay.
- Speaking about the adverse effect of beta blocker eye drop, it may cause blurred vision and temporary eye discomfort.
Some of the rare side effects of beta blockers include abnormally low blood pressure, confusion, sleep disturbance, vomiting, stomach cramps, and sudden weight gain. It is to be noted that beta blockers also interact with other medications. Also, stopping the drug abruptly results in a series of health problems. In order to avoid such unpredictable cases, it is always advisable to consult and seek advice from a qualified physician prior to and after taking the medications. Most likely, the doctor will suggest gradual reduction in the dosage intake to prevent any withdrawal symptoms.