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Clonidine is used with another medication (an opioid) to treat severe pain in people with cancer. Clonidine belongs to a class of drugs known as central alpha agonists. It works by blocking the nerves in the spinal cord that send pain signals.
This medication is given by injection into the area around the spinal cord (epidural) by a health care professional. It is given continuously using a small pump as directed by your doctor.
The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment.
Do not stop using this medication without consulting your doctor. You may experience symptoms such as headache, fast heartbeat, nausea, anxiety, and flushing. A rapid rise in blood pressure may also occur when the drug is suddenly stopped. The risk is greater if you have used this drug for a long time or in high doses, or if you are also taking a beta blocker (such as atenolol). There have also been rare reports of severe, possibly fatal reactions (such as stroke) from stopping this drug too quickly, so it is important that you do not run out of clonidine. Tell your doctor right away if your infusion is interrupted or if you have any problems with your pump. To prevent any reactions while you are stopping treatment with this drug, your doctor may reduce your dose gradually. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details. Report any new or worsening symptoms right away.
To prevent infection, learn how to handle the infusion pump and learn proper care of the injection site. Tell your doctor right away if there are any signs of infection around the injection site (such as swelling, redness, tenderness). See also Side Effects section.
Tell your doctor if your pain does not get better or if it gets worse.
See also How to Use section.
Dizziness, lightheadedness, drowsiness, tiredness, nausea, or dry mouth may occur. If any of these effects last or get worse, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
To reduce the risk of dizziness and lightheadedness, get up slowly when rising from a sitting or lying position.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: fainting, slow/irregular heartbeat, mental/mood changes (such as irritability, depression).
A very serious brain infection (meningitis) may occur if the site of your infusion or the solution going into your spinal cord becomes contaminated. Get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of meningitis such as a headache that is severe or doesn't go away, fever, stiff/painful neck, confusion, or seizures.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
In the US - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch.
In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Before using clonidine, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it (including having a rash while using clonidine patches); or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: heart rhythm problems (such as slow/irregular heartbeat), stroke, high or low blood pressure, kidney disease, bleeding problems, blood disorders, infection of the spinal cord.
This drug may make you dizzy or drowsy. Alcohol or marijuana (cannabis) can make you more dizzy or drowsy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do anything that needs alertness until you can do it safely. Avoid alcoholic beverages. Talk to your doctor if you are using marijuana (cannabis).
Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).
Older adults may be more sensitive to the side effects of this product, especially dizziness or drowsiness. These side effects may increase the risk of falling.
During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.
This drug passes into breast milk and may have undesirable effects on a nursing infant. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
Not applicable. This medication is given in a hospital or clinic and will not be stored at home.
Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.
Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking other products that cause drowsiness such as opioid pain or cough relievers (such as codeine, hydrocodone), alcohol, marijuana (cannabis), drugs for sleep or anxiety (such as alprazolam, lorazepam, zolpidem), muscle relaxants (such as carisoprodol, cyclobenzaprine), or antihistamines (such as cetirizine, diphenhydramine).
Check the labels on all your medicines (such as allergy or cough-and-cold products) because they may contain ingredients that cause drowsiness. Ask your pharmacist about using those products safely.
Some products have ingredients that could raise your blood pressure. Tell your pharmacist what products you are using, and ask how to use them safely (especially cough-and-cold products, diet aids, or NSAIDs such as ibuprofen/naproxen).
If someone has overdosed and has serious symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, call 911. Otherwise, call a poison control center right away. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center. Symptoms of overdose may include: high blood pressure, severe dizziness/drowsiness, fainting, slow/irregular heartbeat, slow/shallow breathing.
This drug is to be given continuously as an infusion. If your infusion is interrupted, contact your doctor or pharmacist right away.
Do not share this medication with others.
Lab and/or medical tests (such as blood pressure, heart rate) should be done while you are using this medication. Consult your doctor for more details.
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