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Clonidine for Treating Hot Flashes

Examples

Generic NameBrand Name
clonidineCatapres

Clonidine is available by prescription only in pill or patch form.

How It Works

Clonidine is a blood pressure medicine that relaxes the smooth muscle of blood vessels, causing them to widen, or dilate. This reduces the pressure of blood flow through the artery. Clonidine's effect on hot flashes is not well understood.

Why It Is Used

Clonidine can be used to treat hot flashes. Because it is a nonhormonal treatment, women with a history of breast cancer can use it without increasing the risk of further cancer cell growth (as in the case of estrogen treatment).

How Well It Works

Clonidine may relieve hot flashes for some women. But studies have not shown that clonidine makes hot flashes less severe or less frequent.1

If you have high blood pressure and hot flashes, clonidine may be an effective choice for both problems.

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

Here are some important things to think about:

  • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
  • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
  • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Call911or other emergency services right away if you have:

Call your doctor if you have:

Common side effects of this medicine include:

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

The clonidine patch should be changed weekly.

Do not suddenly stop taking clonidine. To stop clonidine use, slowly decrease your dose over 2 to 4 days to prevent nervousness, agitation, headache, confusion, and tremor along with a sudden rise in blood pressure (rebound hypertension).

Clonidine for treating hot flashes is an off-label use.

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

Advice for women

If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.

Checkups

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

Citations

  1. Morris E, Rymer J (2007). Menopausal symptoms, search date December 2006. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence. Also available online: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerCarla J. Herman, MD, MPH - Geriatric Medicine
Last RevisedApril 26, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 26, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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