Labetalol usually does not produce any serious side effects. The side effects produced by this medication usually resolve on their own. However, serious side effects can occur occasionally, which highlights the importance of taking this medication with adequate care and precaution.
Labetalol is an adrenergic antagonist or adrenergic receptor blocking agent, that is primarily used for the treatment of hypertension or high blood pressure. It is given alone, and along with other medications to lower blood pressure. It can block both the alpha and beta adrenergic receptors of the sympathetic nervous system. It is usually available as 100 mg, 200 mg, and 300 mg tablets, and also as injections.
This medication is primarily used for the treatment of high blood pressure. Sometimes, it is also used in the treatment of chronic hypertension caused by a type of adrenal tumor.
As mentioned already, it is an adrenergic receptor blocking medication. The nerves of the adrenergic nervous system secrete a chemical, known as norepinephrine. Norepinephrine attaches with the receptors present in the arterial muscles, and induces them to contract causing an increase in blood pressure.
Labetalol blocks these receptors, and thus prevent norepinephrine from attaching with the adrenergic receptors. This allows arteries to expand, and as a result blood pressure drops.
Like other medications, it can also cause some side effects. However, all individuals are not likely to experience the side effects associated with this medication. In general, one can experience some minor side effects, like fatigue or weakness, dizziness, drowsiness, headaches, nausea, and a stuffy nose. Some people can also experience vomiting, numbness or a tingling sensation, irregular heartbeat, and postural hypotension, which is characterized by a sudden drop in blood pressure when a person stands up suddenly from a lying or seated position. Another important side effect of this medication in men is impotency.
Some less common side effects of this drug are, heartburn or indigestion, shortness of breath, blurred vision, unusual swelling of the face, legs, and fingers, chills, dry eyes, and erectile dysfunction (in men). Apart from these, some individuals can develop a few rare but serious side effects, such as, diarrhea, abdominal pain, scalp numbness or tingling, excessive sweating, jaundice, liver problems, fever, a sore throat, easy bruising, persistent loss of appetite, dark yellow urine, and difficulty in urinating. An overdose is likely to cause chest pain, sweating, fainting or dizziness, and slow or irregular heartbeat.
Allergic reactions to labetalol are quite rare. But if they occur, then one should immediately seek medical attention. An allergic reaction to this drug can produce skin rash or hives, itching, and unusual swelling, along with breathing difficulty. This hypertension medication is generally not prescribed for the patients of diabetes, asthma, and congestive heart failure. It is also not suggested for individuals, who are taking calcium channel blockers, and certain antidepressant medications.
The side effects of this medication are generally mild, which go away on their own without requiring any medical treatment. However, people with certain health conditions, like asthma and congestive heart failure should not take this drug without consulting their physicians. Individuals who previously experienced serious side effects to any other medication should also talk to their physicians before taking labetalol. Again, people taking labetalol should not discontinue its use abruptly. Lastly, if you observe any of the aforementioned side effects, whether minor or major, inform your physician immediately to prevent serious complications.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.