What is Propranolol?

19th January 2021

Anxiety is a feeling of fear, worry and unease. It is perfectly normal to feel anxious and many different scenarios will make us feel anxious and stressed throughout our lives, like taking an important test or a big event coming up in your calendar. However, if a person is suffering from anxiety, this means that they are dealing with an unusually large amount of anxious feeling compared to the average person.

This can vary also, with mild anxiety sufferers just feeling uneasy and severe anxiety sufferers having their day-to-day life affected due to strong emotions. Anxiety alters how a person processes emotion and how they behave, also causing physical symptoms. Mild anxiety might be vague and unsettling, while severe anxiety may seriously affect day-to-day living.

anxiety medication

What is Propranolol used for?

A popular treatment for anxiety is beta-blockers, and a commonly used beta-blocker is Propranolol. Propranolol works by blocking the effects of adrenaline. This causes your heart to beat more slowly and with less force, which lowers blood pressure.

Propranolol can also be known by the branded version Bedranol SR. The way it works is by stopping the messages your nerves send out to your heart, by blocking beta-adrenergic receptors where the heart will receive these messages. This causes your heart to beat much slower and with a lot less force, allowing your body to calm down.

Propranolol also helps to stop fast heart rhythms (arrhythmias) and reduces the pressure of blood within your blood vessels. It can also help you if you have angina as Propranolol can help reduce chest pains due to your heart using less energy.

Does Propranolol have any side effects?

Like all medicines, Propranolol can cause side effects in some people, but many have no side effects or only minor ones. It’s important to note that side effects often improve as your body gets used to the medicine.

Common side effects for Propranolol happen more than 1 in 100 people. They are usually mild and short lived. It’s important you speak to your doctor or a pharmacist if you experience a bothersome side effect or if they last for more than a few days:

  • Tiredness
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Cold fingers or toes
  • Difficulties sleeping
  • Nightmares
  • Nausea

It is extremely rare, but some people have had serious side effects with Propranolol. You must tell a doctor straight away if you experience:

  • Shortness of breath with a cough, which gets worse when you exercise (eg, walking upstairs)

  • Swollen ankles or legs

  • Chest pain

  • An irregular heartbeat

  • Wheezing

  • Tightening of your chest

  • Yellow skin

  • Whites of your eyes turn yellow

How do I take Propranolol?

Taking Propranolol does not usually upset your stomach, so you can take it with or without food. It is best to take it the same each day.

It’s important to swallow the tablets whole with a drink of water. If you find them difficult to swallow, some brands have a scoreline to help you break the tablet in half. Check the information leaflet for your brand to see if you can do this. But it’s crucial to take all the tablet at once.

If you forget to take a dose of propranolol, take it as soon as you remember unless it is nearly time for your next dose. In this case, just leave out the missed dose and take your next dose as normal.

If you forget to take it, it’s important to never take more than one dose at the same time. You must never take an extra dose to make up for a forgotten one. However, if you often forget doses, it may help to set an alarm to remind you. You could also ask your pharmacist for advice on other ways to help you remember to take your medicine if you are naturally quite forgetful.

If you take too much, an overdose of Propranolol can slow down your heart rate and make it difficult to breathe. It can also cause dizziness and trembling. The amount of propranolol that can lead to an overdose varies from person to person so it’s important to stick to your recommended dosage.