Beta-blockers are mainly used to treat cardiovascular diseases. These include heart attack, heart failure, angina, hypertension and irregular heart beat. Beta-blockers are also useful for preventing migraine. They treat anxiety conditions. They are useful for treating overactive thyroid and tremor too. Beta-blockers are used to treat glaucoma.

Do Beta-blockers fall under many categories

Different types of beta-blockers are there. Different beta-blockers treat different conditions. Beta-adrenoceptor blocking agents means only beta-blockers. Atenolol, bisoprolol, carteolol, labetalol, Nadolol and Sotalol are some examples of beta-blockers. They are available in pharmacies under respective brand names.

What are the usages of beta-blockers

Beta-blockers release noradrenalin in specific parts of the body. The stimulated nerves release noradrenalin. This chemical sends signals to the portions of the body such as muscles, heart and blood vessels. Beta-blockers work for the heart and lessen its load. Beta-blockers are life saving medicines for persons who suffer from heart attack or angina. They prevent heart failures. Therefore, people who already had a heart failure can avoid further risks of heart failure. They block the electrical impulses stimulating the heart and control the irregular heartbeats. Therefore, the heart slows down in its activity and heart rate decreases.

When the heart rate is slowed down, it gives relief from hypertension, which is high blood pressure. Beta-blockers play an important role in this.

Beta-blockers relieve the eyeball pressure, which is known as glaucoma, when used as eye drops. This is achieved by bringing down the production of a fluid inside the eyeball, called aqueous humour. Beta-blockers are very useful this way, in preventing further development of glaucoma.

When we should avoid taking beta-blockers

You should avoid taking beta-blockers if you have following conditions:

  • Asthma
  • Heart block
  • Unstable heart failure
  • Arterial diseases

They can be used with caution if you are diabetic or if you have low blood pressure. This list is not exhaustive. However, the patient should not decide on this, and should consult a physician before using beta-blockers.

Similarly, pregnant women and nursing women should consult doctors before they commence any beta-blocker treatment.

You should not stop the beta-blocker treatment without consulting a doctor.

Do beta-blockers have side effects

There are some common side effects caused by beta-blockers. They include weakness, chill feeling in hands and feet, reduced heartbeat, nausea/diarrhoea. Occasional side effects are disturbed sleep, impotence and nightmares. Some people may have dizziness when they use beta-blocker. They may feel exhausted due to the treatment with beta-blocker. Therefore, they should not drive if they suffer with these side effects.

Do beta-blockers interact with other medicines

Combined medication usually has a different effect when compared with separate usage. The difference in effect is due to the interaction among the combined medicines. Beta-blockers can interact with the combined medicines. They interact with medicines such as anti-arrhythmics, antihypertensives, antipsychotics, clonidine, mefloquine, diltiazem/digoxin, verapamil, nifedipine and nisoldipine and cause unwanted effects. A physician or a pharmacist will be able to throw more light on this, if you approach them.

What to do if I miss a doss or had an extra dose of beta-blocker

When you have forgotten to take a dose, but remember it before lapse of two hours, you can at once take it. If two hours have lapsed, still you can take it if there is a gap of few hours for the next dose. Then continue in the normal way. Short gap between doses can have more side effects.

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