Beta-blockers might cause one to face various side effects, but they should only last for a few days. The initial period can be a bit hard, and your body might take 2-3 weeks to adjust. The side effects can cause uneasiness and become more complex if you suffer from issues like asthma, diabetes, bronchospasm, etc. You’ll have to closely watch your dosage and the side effects if they’re rising. This medicine can also interact with various drugs and cause issues. An abrupt stop to beta blockers might cause one to suffer from withdrawal symptoms depending on the type of drug, dosage, and metabolic rate of the patient. You’ll be fine as long as you’re closely monitoring your condition.
Beta-blockers are prescription drugs often given to people to help manage their heart conditions, such as high blood pressure.
But it also helps people suffering from migraine, glaucoma, anxiety, overactive thyroid, and essential tremor.
Though it’s supposed to help those suffering from different issues taking this medication also brings a long list of side effects.
There are also warnings and cautions that doctor gives when prescribing this medicine.
So, even though it’s supposed to make you better, it might also make you feel uneasy sometimes.
Many people might not follow the necessary precautions or take medicine at the wrong dosage or time, triggering these side effects. Let’s look at what goes wrong and the side effects one might suffer.
How beta-blocker works
Mostly suggested to patients suffering from high blood pressure, this medicine works by blocking the action of certain hormones in the nervous system, such as adrenaline.
This helps keep the fight and flight instinct at bay, which can be fatal for people suffering from various issues.
Everyone knows how our adrenaline kicks in when we are in danger or in a dangerous situation.
While this hormone is good and needed by people sometimes, it might not be for those suffering from high blood pressure, anxiety, or other issues.
If the body releases high adrenaline levels, it may increase the person’s heartbeat and cause excessive sweating and heart palpitations.
This medicine then helps block the release of these hormones and reduce stress on the heart and the force of contractions of the heart muscle.
It takes off the pressure on the blood vessels in the heart, the brain, and the body.
It also obstructs the production of angiotensin II, a hormone that the kidneys produce, and this relaxes and widens the blood vessels easing the flow of blood through them.
Side effects of beta-blockers
This medication is supposed to help people in various ways when prescribed by their doctor, but just because you start taking it doesn’t mean you will feel your best.
While some people don’t feel the side effects, others might go through a lot of potential side effects, such as:
- Slow heartbeat
- Low blood pressure
- Cold feet and hands
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weakness and dizziness
- Abdominal pain
- Sleeping difficulties and disturbances
- Erectile dysfunction
- Memory loss
- Fluid retention
One needs to be careful when taking this medicine because common side effects can make you feel uneasy. But the effects are usually there for a few days and not for the whole duration of the medical prescription.
If the side effects don’t go away after a few days and affect your quality of life, you should call your doctor.
Warnings for beta-blockers
Before prescribing this medicine to people, the doctor must ask for your complete medical history and the current medications you’re currently on.
Since this medicine slows down the production and blocks the adrenaline hormone, it can cause severe side effects if they aren’t aware of everything about you.
This includes your history of:
- Severe peripheral artery disease, including Raynaud’s disease
- A slow heart rate
- Uncontrolled heart failure
Those with diabetes need to be careful when taking this medicine as it can hide the warning signs of low blood sugar.
You’ll constantly need to check your blood sugar levels when taking this medicine.
Asthma patients need to be careful because beta-blockers can also cause asthma attacks, and your doctor needs to monitor your asthma and prevent attacks.
Those who suffer from chronic lung diseases, such as bronchitis, emphysema, or both diseases, known as a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), can take beta-blockers.
But they should be careful if they start having breathing problems and immediately call their doctor.
So it becomes essential for the doctor to know about your medical condition before thinking of prescribing beta-blockers and the dosage to recommend.
Beta-blockers might also interact with other drugs, and this is where you letting your doctor know about your current medications comes in handy.
If there’s a certain interaction risk, your doctor will not prescribe this medicine to you or might lower the recommended dosage.
Some drugs with which interaction is possible include:
- Anti-arrhythmics for managing irregular heartbeats
- Antihypertensives for lowering blood pressure
- Antipsychotics for treating severe mental health problems
- Clonidine for treating high blood pressure and migraine
- Mefloquine to treat or prevent malaria
Coming off beta blockers side effects
Some patients might feel better when they stop taking their beta blockers.
Sometimes patients with various conditions are on different medications, some of which might cause to have side effects. But an abrupt end to taking these can cause one to suffer from various withdrawal symptoms.
It can result in the following symptoms such as:
- Abrupt heart attack, angina, and even death in part of the heart muscle.
- Patients might also see a significant rise in their blood pressure or experience symptoms like heart palpitation, tremors, or sweating.
- It’s also taken to prevent cardiac arrest, but an abrupt stop might increase the risk of sudden cardiac arrest.
- For some, it may actually cause them to suffer from anxiety.
If you were prescribed a beta blocker to treat your hypothyroidism or if you develop hypothyroidism while taking beta blockers, you could be at risk of a thyroid storm if you suddenly stop.
It could be a life-threatening condition that can increase your heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature to an abnormally high level.
Propranolol is a common medication for heart conditions, and if you suddenly stop taking it, you might suffer from the following withdrawal symptoms:
- Higher blood pressure
- Chest pain
- Fast heartbeat
- Heart attack
Different medications might have different withdrawal symptoms depending on the dosage, how long they have been taking it, and the patient’s metabolic rate. The higher the drug dosage, the more intense the withdrawal symptoms could be.
If you believe a beta blocker medication might not suit you, it’s best to consult your doctor and tell them what the issues are.
They could lower the dosage or change the medication, and if there’s a need to stop the current medicines, they will let you know how to do that safely.
When to see the doctor
Some mild side effects might be observed by the patient taking beta-blockers but not for long.
If the effect persists, you might need to see the doctor immediately.
- Shortness of breath
- Trouble sleeping
- Decreased libido
The issue with any medicine is that you must take it how it’s prescribed.
When you fail to do so, it can impact you and cause various side effects, which include:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Changes in vision
- Irregular heartbeat
You must be careful and take the appropriate dosage your doctor prescribes at the right time.
If it’s twice a day and you missed one dose, skip it altogether and continue from the next dosage.
An overdose of this medicine can also cause severe side effects, as mentioned above.
Other issues when taking beta-blockers
Some brands of beta-blockers, such as atenolol and metoprolol, have reportedly been causing weight gain.
Fluid retention accompanied by weight gain could signify heart failure or that your condition is getting worse.
Weight gain is also a common issue; you could gain 2-3 pounds within a day or more than 5 pounds in a week, accompanied by other symptoms.
Another issue people face is that their heart rate stays low, and since this medicine blocks off the release of adrenaline, it affects your heart rate even when it shouldn’t be affected.
For example, if you’re exercising, your heart rate is supposed to rise, but it might not do so when you’re taking this medicine.
If you suddenly stopped taking it before, which you shouldn’t do in the first place, it can become increasingly difficult to start again.
In the beginning, it wasn’t easy to adjust to this medication. When restarting, it’s difficult to determine the correct dosage.
What to expect when coming off beta-blockers?
When coming off beta-blockers, you need to do so gradually and not suddenly stop taking them, for they can cause more harm than help.
If you let go of them suddenly, the beta-blocker withdrawal can result in a rise in blood pressure in patients with heart disease, chest pain, heart attack, and even sudden death.
The side effects might last for a week when you stop taking it. But if done under the guidance of a doctor, you can prevent most side effects and gradually get this drug out of your system.
Is long-term use of beta-blockers harmful?
Taking this medicine for the long term can also severely impact a patient.
They might start suffering from disorientation, short-term memory loss, emotional lability, inability to think or concentrate correctly, and decreased performance on neuropsychological tests used to measure a psychological function.
What should you avoid when taking beta-blockers?
It would help to avoid drinking beverages containing caffeine or over-the-counter medicines, antihistamines, and antacids containing aluminum.
You should also avoid alcohol, for it can negatively impact your body and reverse the effects of the medicine.
It’s difficult to adjust to beta-blockers initially for their side effects that can cause uneasiness.
The side effects usually last for days, and the heart needs to adjust to taking these medicines, which generally takes about a month.
But if you suddenly start taking or stop taking them, that’s also difficult and can lead to adverse effects.
Letting go of this medication under the guidance of a doctor is the only way to ensure you don’t face any consequences.
Even though this medicine might have helped some people with their heart issues, getting off feels like a breath of fresh air because of all the complications they had to face while on it.