Propranolol is a medicine that falls in a class of drugs known as beta-blockers, and it is primarily used for the treatment of hypertension, or high blood pressure. Like any other class of medication, propranolol too has its side effects, especially if the drug does not suit the body type of a certain person. They are quite commonly seen, and if the injection of this drug coincides with some other condition, like pregnancy, asthma, diabetes, or phaeochromocytoma, then the resulting complexities can be quite difficult to deal with.
Propranolol is usually used either alone, or in combination with some other drugs and medications to treat cases of high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, angina, chest pain related to coronary artery disease, migraines and thyrotoxicosis. A drug that treats so many ailments will obviously have some side effects on certain people. They are not a rare occurrence, and as a result, the dosage of this drug is carried out after careful examination of the patient, and only by a qualified and experienced doctor.
Beta-adrenergic blocking agents, or beta blockers, is a class of drugs that blocks the action of some parts of the involuntary nervous system of the human body. The sympathetic nervous system is a major component of the involuntary nervous system, and it controls the rate at which the heart beats. Beta-blockers can block the actions of these nerves and thus, lower the heart rate of a person. Beta-blockers also contribute towards reducing the oxygen demand by the heart muscles. Falling in this category of beta-blockers, propranolol lowers the heart rate and offers the many advantages that this brings.
Lowering the heart rate is not always a wise move though. Sudden and extreme reductions in the beating of the heart can cause a variety of problems, and all the dangers stem from this very problem. This is the reason why the intake of this medication must be highly regulated, and only is to be used on the advice and prescription of a qualified doctor.
Known Side Effects of Propranolol
As is common to most beta blockers, the obvious advantages and benefits of the drug usually mask the potentially dangerous side effects that can really take a toll on the body. One must be careful while taking this drug, and if any issues do crop up as a consequence, a doctor must be consulted immediately. Cardiac arrests are a very real possibility as a direct result of injecting this drug in the system, so all necessary care must be taken so as to ensure treatment is received as soon as possible.
For most people, the side effects are simply mild symptoms that are easily treatable and cause no serious damage in the long run. Minor issues with propranolol are given below:
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Abdominal craps and nausea
- Slow heart rate and low blood pressure
- Abnormal heartbeat rates which can cause severe complications
- Swelling up of hands and feet
- Difficulty in breathing and constant wheezing
- Numbness and tingling in limbs
- Unexpected allergic reactions
- Swelling up and blistering of skin
- Impotence and fever
- Insomnia and fatigue
Apart from these, there are a few more effects that tend to affect the psyche of an individual more, and can cause greater havoc.
- Weight gain: The cardiac complications that accompany this drug can sometimes also lead to unnatural and sudden weight gain in some people.
- Depression: As a result of insomnia, propranolol can cause severe depression in a person. Related side effects are memory loss, vivid dreams, and hallucinations.
- Anxiety: Along with depression, the drug can also end up causing extreme anxiety in an individual. This is again a result of the combining factors of insomnia, a slowed heartbeat, and extreme fatigue.
- Hair loss: This is another commonly seen side effect of the drug.
- Hypoglycemia: Though this is not a direct result of the intake of propranolol, the drug does mask the effects of this condition. Low blood sugar levels are dangerous for people suffering from diabetes, so they need to be very cautious about how much propranolol they introduce in their body.
- Pregnancy problems: It has been observed that if pregnant women have too much intake in their expecting state, the child may suffer from abnormalities, growth retardation, low blood pressure or respiratory problems.
- Heart problems: People with a history of chronic heart issues will suffer some unforeseen complexities due to the drug. This can lead to sudden cases of heart failure and worsening of the condition known as angina.
Another thing to keep in mind for people taking this drug is not to suddenly stop its intake without talking to a doctor. The sudden increase in the heart rate could prove very harmful in some cases. Any other dietary advice given by the doctor must also be rigidly followed at all costs, also regularly visiting the doctor is a must.
The mixed variety and occasional seriousness of these side effects ensures that all words of the doctor be followed to the tee, and it also calls for regular visits to the specialist. If any signs or symptoms do crop up, it must be brought to the doctor's attention immediately as failure to do so will only complicate matters further, and one may end up paying a very heavy price for it.