We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

What Are the Most Common Anticholinergic Side Effects?

By Jacquelyn Gilchrist
Updated: May 17, 2024

An anticholinergic is a bronchodilator medication that treats the symptoms of a breathing disorder by relaxing the airways. The most common types of anticholinergic side effects can range from a minor cough to a rapid heartbeat. To help avoid the potential anticholinergic side effects, patients should disclose all of their other medical conditions, medications, and supplements before using the drug. Proper use of the drug, which is available in aerosol form, can also help prevent unwanted side effects.

Some examples of anticholinergic drugs include tiotropium, ipratropium, and a combination drug of albuterol and ipratropium. The exact side effects may vary, depending on the specific medication the patient uses. Some side effects do not require medical attention, unless they become severe. These can include headache, a cough, and dry mouth.

Other minor side effects may include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Patients have also reported constipation, heartburn, and a runny nose or nosebleed. Sneezing, indigestion, and stomach pain can also occur. Muscle pain, painful white patches in the mouth, and changes in the patient's voice are also possible anticholinergic side effects. Some patients may experience frequent, painful or difficult urination.

More serious anticholinergic side effects require immediate medical attention. Patients should contact their doctor if they notice signs of a possible infection, such as chills, a fever, and a sore throat. A rapid heartbeat and chest pain may be an indication of an overdose of albuterol and ipratropium, while an overdose of tiotropium may also cause blurred vision, uncontrollable shaking in the hands, and red eyes, along with unusual changes in thinking.

Additional anticholinergic side effects that require a doctor's urgent care can include signs of a possible allergic reaction, such as hives, itching, or wheezing, along with swelling of the facial region. Difficulty breathing or swallowing may also occur. Other serious anticholinergic side effects may include seeing colored images, seeing halos around lights, and hoarseness.

Some of the other common anticholinergic side effects may occur because the patient got the medicine in his eyes. To prevent this, the patient should keep his eyes closed at all times while using the inhaler. If tiotropium gets in the eyes, the patient may have blurry vision and sensitivity to light, while those who get albuterol and ipratropium in the eyes may have widened pupils, eye redness, or eye pain. It can also cause the development of narrow angle glaucoma, which can eventually result in vision loss.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.