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What Are the Side Effects of Nitroglycerin?

By Meshell Powell
Updated May 17, 2024
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Some of the most commonly reported side effects of nitroglycerin include headache, dizziness, and lightheadedness. If the injectible form of nitroglycerin is used, symptoms may include skin irritation at the site of the injection. Nausea and vomiting are also among the more common side effects of nitroglycerin. More serious side effects may include blurred vision, slurred speech, or a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. Any questions or concerns about individualized responses to nitroglycerin should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

Nitroglycerin is a prescription medication used to treat chest pain and manage a variety of heart conditions. The side effects of this medication are generally mild, although any bothersome symptoms that develop after taking nitroglycerin should be reported to a doctor for further medical evaluation. The most common side effects of nitroglycerin include headaches and dizziness. The dizziness or lightheadedness associated with the use of this drug are usually mild and do not last for more than a few hours. The headaches, however, can be quite severe and often require the use of prescription medications in order to relieve the pain.

In some cases, nitroglycerin may be given in the form of an injection. Skin irritation, such as redness and swelling at the site of the injection, is relatively common and usually disappear within a few hours. Extreme swelling, pain, or red streaks extending from the injection site should be evaluated by a physician. A brief burning sensation under the tongue may be experienced if the sublingual form of nitroglycerin is used.

Uncommon yet potentially serious side effects of nitroglycerin may include blurred vision, slurred speech, or severe nausea. Irregular heartbeat, worsening of chest pain, or fainting should be treated as a emergency, as these symptoms could indicate the presence of a severe and potentially fatal problem with the heart. Extreme weakness or a sudden swelling of the feet or hands should be reported to a medical professional right away.

Anaphylaxis is among the rare yet serious potential side effects of nitroglycerin. Symptoms often include a rash; hives; and swelling of the face, lips, or throat. Breathing may become difficult or impossible, and the patient may lose consciousness. Emergency medical assistance is urgent if this occurs, as a lack of oxygen can prove fatal within a matter of minutes without prompt medical intervention. Hospitalization is almost always required, and supportive care such as oxygen therapy may be needed until the patient's condition has stabilized.

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