Ephedrine (ephedrine hydrochloride)
General information on Ephedrine
Ephedrine, a prescription drug, is used for treating wheezing, tightness in the chest, breathlessness and other symptoms related to bronchial asthma. The drug may also be used for certain other purposes not listed here. The drug works by reducing the inflammation of the blood vessels, thus expanding the airways and hence making it easier to breathe.
Precautions/side effects of Ephedrine
Patients allergic to Ephedrine should refrain from using this drug. Other than that, patients using monoamine oxidase inhibitors such as phenelzine, thyroid disorder, heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes should refrain from using this drug.
Ephedrine is also known to react with certain medications such as beta blockers used for treating high blood pressure like propranolol, methyldopa, antidepressants such as ergot alkaloids, other medications such as digoxin, reserpine, bromocriptine etc. Patients on any of these drugs should consult a doctor before ephedrine.
Ephedrine is a Category D pregnancy drug. Thus, it may have adverse effects on the fetus as well as the newborn. Hence, pregnant women as well as women who are breastfeeding should refrain from using this drug.
The drug is also known to have certain side effects such as dizziness, troubled sleeping patterns, stomach upset and nausea. However, in some cases, severe side effects may show up to the drug such as rashes on the skin, hives, inflammation of the mouth, tongue or throat or difficulty in urination. If any of these symptoms show up after taking the drug, a doctor should be consulted immediately.
Important safety information
- MAO inhibitors should not be taken at least 14 days prior to taking ephedrine.
- The drug is known to cause dizziness. Thus, risky tasks which require concentration such as driving or working on heavy machinery should be avoided after taking this drug.
- Diet control drugs should be avoided while taking ephedrine.
- Diabetes patients should go for regular blood sugar tests while taking ephedrine.
- Other asthma prescription drugs should be avoided while using ephedrine.
Dosage of ephedrine
Ephedrine is available as 50mg/ml vials. The usual dosage of the drug in adults is 25 mg to 50 mg once daily. The drug is injected intramuscularly. However, in some cases, the drug may be given intravenously in small doses in small intervals. The usual dosage of the drug in children is 0.5 mg per kg of body weight every 4 to 6 hours. However, the dosage may differ depending on the response of the patient.
The drug can be taken with or without food. However, it is recommended on a full stomach to avoid stomach upsets. Overdose of the drug should be avoided at all costs. Overdose of the drug can lead to severe symptoms such as irregular heartbeat, difficulty in urination, rashes on the skin etc. which require immediate medical attention.
Storage of ephedrine
Ephedrine should be stored at room temperature, in a cool and dry place away from direct sunlight. It should be kept away from reach of children and pets at all times.