Brand Names: Catapres, Kapvay, Duraclon, Jeloga
Clonidine (Brand Name: Kapvay) is an alpha agonist medication primarily used to treat hypertension. It may also reduce the hyperactivity associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children ages 6-12, adolescents, and adults. Clonidine is sometimes used in conjunction with stimulant medications.
Clonidine has not been studied in children younger than 6. Clonidine does not have a high risk of abuse or dependence. It is not a controlled substance.
Clonidine is also used off label to treat hot flashes that occur from menopause, Tourette’s syndrome and sometimes withdrawal from narcotic drugs or nicotine.
How to Use Clonidine
Before starting or refilling a clonidine prescription, read the medication guide included with your pills, as it may be updated with new information.
This guide should not replace a conversation with your doctor, who has a holistic view of your or your child’s medical history, other diagnoses, and other prescriptions. If you have questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist before you begin taking the medication.
As with all medications, follow your clonidine prescription instructions exactly. There are different delivery systems available including:
- Tablets taken orally once or twice daily with or without food. Tablets, available in 0.1mg, 0.2mg, and 0.3mg dosages, should never be crushed, broken, or chewed.
- 12-hour extended-release tablets, taken orally once or twice daily with or without food, in the morning or at bedtime. Tablets are available in 0.1mg and 0.2mg dosages. The time-release formulation is designed to maintain a steady level of medication in your body throughout the day. Tablets should never be crushed, broken, or chewed.
- Transdermal patch, applied to clean, dry skin on the upper outer arm or chest. The patch is typically worn for one week continuously, then replaced with another patch in a different location to avoid irritation. Be sure to wash your hands after handling the patch, and apply the adhesive cover over the patch if it starts to peel off.
The optimal dosage varies patient by patient. Your doctor may adjust your daily dosage by 0.1mg increments until you or your child experiences the best response — that is, the lowest dosage at which you experience the greatest improvement in symptoms without side effects.
Do not drink alcohol while taking this drug.
When discontinuing treatment, or decreasing dosage, patients should work with a doctor to gradually taper the level of medication by no more than 0.1mg every 3 to 7 days. Stopping clonidine suddenly can create withdrawal symptoms including nausea, flushing, anxiety, agitation, headache, tremor, or tightness in chest.
Some patients report developing a tolerance to clonidine after long-term usage. If you notice that your dosage is no longer controlling your symptoms, talk to your doctor to plan a course of action.
The most common side effects of clonidine are as follows: sedation, tiredness, cough, runny nose, sneezing, irritability, sore throat, insomnia, nightmares, change in mood, constipation, increased body temperature, dry mouth, and ear pain.
Clonidine can temporarily raise levels of growth hormone for children and adults, but this effect generally wears off with time.
Other serious side effects include low blood pressure or heart rate, sleepiness, or withdrawal symptoms. Taking clonidine may impair your or your teenager’s ability to drive, operate machinery, or perform other potentially dangerous tasks. If side effects are bothersome, or do not go away, talk to your doctor. Most people taking this medication do not experience any of these side effects.
Report to your doctor any heart-related problems or a family history of heart and blood pressure problems. Patients with structural cardiac abnormalities, renal failure, and serious heart problems could experience complications while taking clonidine. Physicians should monitor these vital signs closely during treatment. Call your doctor immediately if you or your child experience warning signs such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or fainting while taking clonidine.
The above is not a complete list of potential side effects. If you notice any health changes not listed above, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.
Precautions and Safety
Store clonidine in a secure place out of the reach of children, and at room temperature. Do not share your clonidine prescription with anyone, even another person with ADHD. Sharing prescription medication is illegal, and can cause harm.
You should not take clonidine if you have an allergy to clonidine hydrochloride or any of the other ingredients. You should use caution taking clonidine if you have kidney problems, a history of fainting, heart problems, a history of stroke, or developed a rash from using the transdermal form of clonidine.
Avoid becoming overheated or dehydrated while taking clonidine.
If you’re thinking of becoming pregnant, discuss the use of clonidine with your doctor. Animal studies indicate a potential risk of fetal harm. Clonidine is passed through breastmilk, so it is recommended that mothers do not nurse while taking it.
Before taking clonidine, discuss all other active prescription medications with your doctor. Clonidine can exacerbate the drowsiness created by depressants including alcohol, barbiturates, antihistamines, or other sedatives. Taking clonidine with tricyclic antidepressants can limit the drug’s ability to lower blood pressure.
Share a list of all vitamin or herbal supplements, and prescription and non-prescription medications you take with the pharmacist when you fill your prescription, and let all doctors and physicians know you are taking clonidine before having any surgery or laboratory tests. The above is not a complete list of all possible drug interactions.
Clonidine and Other ADHD Medications: More Information
- Download: The Complete Guide to ADHD Medications
- Read: A Parent’s Guide to ADHD Medications
- Find: ADHD Specialists or Clinics Near You