Methyldopa : Uses, Side Effects, Interactions & More
Why is this medication prescribed?
Methyldopa is used to treat high blood pressure. Methyldopa is in a class of medications called antihypertensives. It works by relaxing the blood vessels so that blood can flow more easily through the body.
High blood pressure is a common condition and when left untreated, it can cause damage to the brain, heart, blood vessels, kidneys, and other parts of the body. Damage to these organs can cause heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, vision loss, and other problems. In addition to taking medicine, making lifestyle changes will also help control your blood pressure. These changes include eating a low-fat and low-salt diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising for at least 30 minutes most days, not smoking, and consuming alcohol in moderation.
How should this medicine be used?
Methyldopa comes as a tablet and a liquid to take by mouth. It is usually taken two to four times a day. To remind you to take methyldopa, take it around the same time each day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any parts you do not understand. Take methyldopa exactly as directed. Do not take more or less or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Shake the liquid well before each dose to mix the medicine evenly. Use a measuring spoon or cup to measure the correct amount of liquid for each dose, not a regular household spoon.
Methyldopa controls high blood pressure but does not cure it. Keep taking methyldopa even if you feel fine. Do not stop taking methyldopa without consulting your doctor. If you stop taking methyldopa suddenly, your blood pressure may increase and you may experience side effects. Your doctor will decrease your dose gradually.
Other uses for this medicine
This medication may be prescribed for other uses. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before taking methyldopa,
- Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to methyldopa, any other medications, sulfites, or any of the ingredients in methyldopa tablets or liquid. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
- Tell your doctor if you are taking a monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam, Zelapar), and tranylcypromine (Parnate). Your doctor will probably tell you not to take methyldopa.
- Tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: haloperidol (Haldol), levodopa (in Sinemet, in Stalevo), lithium (Lithobid), other high blood pressure medications, and tolbutamide. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you closely for side effects.
- Do not take it with iron supplements or vitamins that contain iron.
- Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had kidney or liver disease, including hepatitis or cirrhosis.
- Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. If you become pregnant while taking methyldopa, call your doctor.
- Talk to your doctor about the risks of taking methyldopa if you are 65 or older. Older adults should generally not take methyldopa because it is not as safe as other medications that can be used to treat the same condition.
- If you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking methyldopa.
- You should know that this medicine may make you drowsy. Do not drive a car or operate machinery for 48 to 72 hours after you start taking methyldopa or after your dose is increased.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
Your doctor may prescribe a low-salt or low-sodium diet. Follow these directions carefully.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for the one you forgot.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Methyldopa may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- muscle weakness
- swollen ankles or feet
- upset stomach
- dry mouth
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
- unexplained fever
- extreme tiredness
- yellowing of the skin or eyes
Methyldopa can cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medicine.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor can submit a report online to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?
Keep this medicine in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of the reach of children. Store the tablets at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). The liquid can be stored in the refrigerator or at room temperature.
Unnecessary medications must be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and others cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medicine down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medications is through a drug take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage / recycling department to find out about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA Safe Drug Disposal website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
It is important to keep all medicines out of the sight and reach of children, since many containers (such as those containing weekly pills and those for eye drops, creams, patches and inhalers) are not resistant to children and small children can easily open them. To protect young children from poisoning, always close the safety caps and immediately place the medicine in a safe place, one that is upright and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org
In case of emergency/overdose
In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim collapsed, had a seizure, is having trouble breathing, or is unable to wake up, immediately call 911 for emergency services.
What other information should I know?
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your blood pressure should be checked regularly to determine your response to methyldopa. Your doctor may order certain lab tests to check your red blood cell count and liver function.
Methyldopa can make your urine darker when exposed to air. This effect is harmless.
Do not let anyone else take your medicine. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important that you keep a written list of all prescription and over-the-counter (over-the-counter) medications you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should take this list with you every time you visit a doctor or if you go into hospital. It is also important information to take with you in case of emergencies.
Brand names of combination products
- Aldochlor® (containing Chlorothiazide, Methyldopa)
Disclaimer: We have made every effort to ensure that all information is factually accurate, comprehensive and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a licensed health care professional’s choice of knowledge and expertise. You should always consult your doctor or other health care professional before taking any medication. The information given here is subject to change and it has not been used to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions or adverse effects. The lack of warning or other information for any drug does not indicate that the combination of medicine or medication is safe, effective or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.