Learn the side effects and warnings for the high blood pressure drug labetalol (Normodyne, Trandate).
Labetalol Safety Information: Who Should Use It?
Labetalol is the generic name for Normodyne and Trandate. This drug is used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure). It is both an alpha-blocker and a beta-blocker, making it unique among anti-hypertension drugs. Labetalol can have serious unwanted side effects, but health care providers prescribe it when the potential benefits outweigh the risks posed by these side effects.
People with certain conditions should not take labetalol. These conditions include allergy to the drug; asthma, chronic bronchitis, or emphysema; severe heart failure, reduced heart rate (bradycardia), and heart block. People with liver disease should take labetalol with caution. People with angina who take labetalol should not stop taking the drug suddenly; instead, they should gradually taper off use over a period of a week or two.
Contact your doctor immediately if you experience weakness; swelling (edema) of the feet, ankles, or legs; or breathing difficulties. Other potential side-effects are listed below.
Labetalol Drug and Food Interactions
Labetalol can interact with the following drugs (ask your doctor if you take any of these medications): oral diabetes drugs, tricyclic antidepressants (e.g. imipramine), beta-stimulant asthma drugs, cimetidine (Tagamet), glutethimide (a sedative), nitroglycerin, and calcium-channel blockers (another class of hypertension drug). Labetalol is not reported to interact with specific foods, but taking it with food increases absorption of the drug and can help counter upset stomach.
Common Labetalol Side Effects
Nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, diarrhea
Changes in the sense of taste
Bronchospasm and other breathing difficulties
Muscle weakness, cramps
Dry eyes, blurred vision
Less Common Labetalol Side Effects
Aggravation of the autoimmune disease lupus erythematosus
Depression, emotional instability
Confusion, disorientation, loss of short-term memory
Colitis (inflammation of the large intestine)
Decrease in white blood cells and platelets
Labetalol Safety: The Bottom Line
If you experience any of the above side effects of labetalol and they cause significant distress or disruption to your life, tell your health care provider. About 7% of people taking labetalol have enough trouble with side effects that they switch to a different drug.
The Pill Book, 12th Edition, 2006. Harold M. Silverman, Pharm. D., Editor-in-Chief. New York: Bantam Books.