How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

Labetalol belongs to a class of medications called beta-blockers. It is used to treat high blood pressure. It helps to decrease blood pressure by reducing the workload on the heart and by opening the blood vessels.

Labetalol may be used alone, but is often used in combination with additional high blood pressure medications called diuretics (water pills). The injectable form of labetalol is used for emergency treatment of severe high blood pressure.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are being given this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop using this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to use this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

What form(s) does this medication come in?

Apo labetalol is available as tablets in strengths of 100 mg and 200 mg..

How should I use this medication?

The recommended starting dose of labetalol is 100 mg by mouth twice daily after food. Your doctor may adjust the dose of the medication once or twice a week according to your needs and response to the medication. The usual maintenance dose ranges from 200 mg to 400 mg by mouth twice daily. The maximum recommended dose is 600 mg by mouth twice daily.

Many things can affect the dose of a medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.

It is important to take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is within 8 hours of your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue on with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Do not stop taking this medication suddenly without checking with your doctor first. Stopping the medication suddenly after you have been taking it for a while may cause unpleasant and potentially harmful effects.

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

Who should NOT take this medication?

Labetalol should not be used by anyone who:

  • is allergic to labetalol or to any ingredients of the medication
  • is in cardiogenic shock with very low blood pressure
  • has a severely slow heart rate
  • has asthma or a history of obstructive airway disease
  • has serious heart block
  • has uncontrolled congestive heart failure

What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent. The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • anxiety or nervousness
  • changes in taste sensations
  • constipation
  • decreased sexual ability
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • drowsiness (slight)
  • dry, sore eyes
  • dry mouth or sore throat
  • headache
  • itching of skin
  • muscle aches or cramps
  • nausea or vomiting
  • nightmares and vivid dreams
  • numbness or tingling of fingers, toes, or scalp
  • stomach discomfort
  • stuffy nose
  • trouble sleeping
  • unusual tiredness or weakness

Although most of these side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not check with your doctor or seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • back pain or joint pain
  • blurry vision
  • breathing difficulty or wheezing
  • chest pain
  • cold hands and feet
  • confusion (especially in elderly patients)
  • dark urine
  • depression
  • dizziness or lightheadedness when getting up from a lying down or sitting position
  • fever and sore throat
  • hallucinations
  • irregular heartbeat
  • red, scaling, or crusted skin
  • shortness of breath
  • skin rash
  • slow heartbeat (especially less than 50 beats per minute)
  • swelling of ankles, feet, or lower legs
  • unusual bleeding and bruising
  • yellow eyes or skin

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Breathing conditions: People with asthma and certain other breathing problems should not take labetalol.

Diabetes: The signs of low blood sugar may not be as noticeable when taking labetalol. People with diabetes who take insulin or other medications that work by reducing the blood sugar should be cautious and monitor blood sugar carefully while taking labetalol.

Dizziness: Move slowly when moving from a lying down or sitting position to a standing position as dizziness may occur, especially when this medication is first being started.

Dry eyes: Dry eyes have been reported with the use of this medication.

Hyperthyroidism (high level of thyroid hormones): People with hyperthyroidism should be cautious while taking labetalol as it may reduce the symptoms of this condition and give a false impression of improvement. Stopping the medication suddenly could worsen this condition.

Liver disease: Lower doses of labetalol may be required for people with liver disease. Rarely, liver injury has been reported with the use of this medication. Liver tests should be performed at regular intervals during therapy with labetalol.

Skin conditions: Various skin rashes have been reported with the use of this medication.

Stopping the medication: This medication should not be stopped suddenly by people with angina. There have been reports of severe worsening of angina, heart attack, or abnormal heart rhythms occurring in people with angina pectoris who have abruptly stopped taking their medication.

Pregnancy: Labetalol should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the mother and unborn baby.

Breast-feeding: Labetalol passes into breast milk and should not be used by breast-feeding mothers. If the medication is considered essential for the health of a woman who is breast-feeding, she will need to stop breast-feeding.

Children:The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children.

Seniors: Seniors may be more sensitive to the side effects of labetalol and may require lower doses.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

There may be an interaction between labetalol and any of the following:

  • anesthetic agents (e.g., halothane)
  • antidiabetes medications
  • certain antiarrhythmics (e.g., quinidine, propafenone, lidocaine)
  • certain asthma medications (e.g., theophylline)
  • certain calcium channel blockers (e.g., verapamil)
  • cimetidine
  • diuretics
  • monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors (e.g., tranylcypromine, phenelzine) taken within the past 2 weeks
  • other medications that lower blood pressure (e.g., nitroglycerin, clonidine)
  • tricyclic antidepressants (e.g., amitriptyline, desipramine, imipramine)

If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.

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