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Beta blockers

Generic name Brand name
___ atenolol Tenormin®
___ metoprolol Lopressor®, Toprol®
___ nadolol Corgard®
___ pindolol Visken®
___ propranolol Inderal® Innopran®
___ carvedilol Coreg®









How does this medicine work?

These medicines are used to treat many conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure) and heart conditions. They are also used to treat migraine headaches, fainting spells, and occasionally behavior and emotional problems or other conditions specified by your healthcare provider.

Beta blockers work by blocking the response to some nerve impulses in certain parts of the body. As a result, they help lower the heart rate and blood pressure, and decrease the heart's workload. They also help the heart beat more regularly.

How should I give it?

Most of these medicines come in pill form. Some are available in liquid form and in injection form.

Give it at regular times to keep a steady level in the bloodstream. Use this medicine exactly as prescribed, even if your child feels fine.

___ If using the liquid form, shake well right before using. Draw up the correct amount in the medicine dropper or oral syringe. Give a small squirt of the medicine inside the cheek. To avoid choking, let your child swallow each squirt before giving more.

___ For babies, you may want to mix the medicine with a small amount of formula or breast milk and give it with a bottle nipple before feeding. Do not add the medicine to a whole bottle because if your baby does not finish it, you will not know how much of the medicine was taken.

If your child is taking more than one dose daily, the last dose may be given at bedtime to avoid tiredness during the day.

Note: if your child's medicine is a long-acting product (noted by XL or SR after the name), it should not be crushed, chewed, or cut.

Other instructions:







Are there any precautions about food or other medicines?

Follow your doctor's directions for using this medicine.

Give this medicine with food.

Warning! Certain medicines interact with beta blockers. It is very important to check with the doctor, nurse practitioner, or pharmacist before giving any other prescription or non-prescription medicines, vitamins, or herbs.

Avoid alcohol-containing foods, beverages, or non-prescription medicines (such as cough syrup) while taking this medicine.

What should I do if a dose is missed?

If a dose is missed, and it is prescribed once daily, take the missed dose as soon as you remember that day.

For medicines that are prescribed more often, follow these guidelines: 

If it is prescribed: Give it no closer than:
twice daily 6 hours from the next dose
3 times daily 3 hours from the next dose
4 times daily skip the missed dose

If it is too close to the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with the regular schedule. Never give a double dose.

If your child vomits (throws up) within 30 minutes after receiving a dose, give it again. If your child vomits the second dose, do not repeat it again.

If your child misses or vomits two doses, please call the clinic.

What are the side effects?

Warning: Beta blockers may trigger breathing problems in people with asthma or similar conditions. If your child has asthma, be sure to ask your doctor before giving this medicine.


  • low blood pressure
  • sleepiness
  • lightheadedness
  • dizziness
  • tiredness, weakness
  • nausea
  • dry mouth


  • headache
  • constipation
  • confusion
  • depression


  • nightmares
  • muscle cramps
  • rash
  • change in sense of taste

The person taking this medicine should not drive, operate machinery, or do anything that could be dangerous (such as bicycling or riding a lawn mower) until it is clear that no risky side effects are present.

The dose may need to be increased slowly to avoid side effects.

If your child has other side effects that you think are due to this medicine, please call your doctor or pharmacist.

When should I call the clinic?

  • wheezing
  • slow or irregular heartbeat, or chest pain that lasts longer than 15 minutes
  • fainting or going unconscious (unaware of what is going on)
  • swelling of legs or ankles
  • allergic reaction; signs include:
    - fever or chills
    - rash or hives
    - wheezing
    - trouble breathing - call 911

What else do I need to know?

Inform your doctor right away if your child has any of the following:

  • heart problems
  • asthma or other breathing difficulties
  • diabetes
  • thyroid condition

Your doctor may ask your child to come to the clinic for examination to find out if the dose or the medicine needs to be changed.

You and your child should know the names and doses of all medicines he or she is taking. Share this information with anyone involved in your child's care. Please bring the medicine container when your child comes to the clinic or emergency department.

Always make sure you have enough medicine on hand. Each time you refill your prescription, check to see how many refills are left. If no refills are left, the pharmacy will need 2 or 3 days to contact the clinic to renew the prescription.

Check the label and expiration date before giving each dose. Ask your pharmacist what to do with outdated or unused medicines. If there is no "take-back" program empty them into the trash.

Store all medicines in their original containers and away from direct sunlight or heat. Do not store in humid places such as the bathroom. Keep them out of children's reach, locked up if possible.

Check with your doctor before stopping this medicine. The dose is usually lowered over 1 or 2 weeks.

If too much or the wrong kind of medicine is taken, call the Poison Control Center toll-free at 1-800-222-1222. If your child is unconscious or has a seizure, call 911.


This is not specific to your child but provides general information. If you have any questions, call your clinic or pharmacy.

Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota
Last reviewed 8/2015

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Minnesota Family Resource Center library, or visit

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