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Nitroglycerin (oral/sublingual)

Generic name: nitroglycerin (oral/sublingual) [ NYE-troe-GLI-ser-in ]
Brand names: GoNitro, Nitrolingual, Nitromist, Nitrostat, Nitro-Time
Dosage forms: oral capsule, extended release (2.5 mg; 6.5 mg; 9 mg); sublingual powder (400 mcg); sublingual spray (0.4 mg); sublingual tablet (0.3 mg; 0.4 mg; 0.6 mg)
Drug classes: Antianginal agents, Vasodilators

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com on Jun 4, 2021. Written by Cerner Multum.

What is nitroglycerin?

Nitroglycerin is used to treat or prevent attacks of chest pain (angina).

Nitroglycerin may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Warnings

Get emergency medical help if you still have chest pain after using a total of 3 doses in 15 minutes, or if you have chest pain that seems unusual.

Before taking this medicine

You may not be able to use nitroglycerin if you have:

  • severe anemia (low red blood cells);

  • increased pressure inside the skull;

  • circulation problems or shock (pale or clammy skin, cold sweat, numbness or tingling, fast or irregular heartbeats, or feeling like you might pass out); or

  • if you also take riociguat or vericiguat.

Do not use erectile dysfunction medicine (such as Viagra, Cialis, or Levitra) or you could have a sudden and serious decrease in blood pressure.

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Not approved for use by anyone younger than 18 years old.

How should I take nitroglycerin?

Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Use the medicine exactly as directed. Try to rest or stay seated when you take nitroglycerin (may cause dizziness or fainting).

Read and carefully follow any Instructions for Use provided with your medicine. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you do not understand these instructions.

Use nitroglycerin at the first sign of chest pain. Use another dose every 5 minutes as needed, up to a total of 3 doses.

Get emergency medical help if you still have chest pain after using a total of 3 doses in 15 minutes, or if your chest pain seems unusual.

You may use nitroglycerin sublingual within 5 to 10 minutes before an activity that might cause chest pain.

This medicine can affect the results of certain medical tests. Tell any doctor who treats you that you are using nitroglycerin.

If you take nitroglycerin on a regular schedule to prevent angina, do not stop taking it suddenly or you could have a severe attack of angina. Keep this medicine on hand at all times. Get your prescription refilled before you run out of medicine completely.

Store nitroglycerin at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

Keep the spray away from open flame or high heat, such as in a car on a hot day. The canister may explode if it gets too hot.

What happens if I miss a dose?

If you take nitroglycerin on a regular schedule, skip any missed dose if it's almost time for your next dose. Do not use two doses at one time.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. An overdose of nitroglycerin can be fatal.

Overdose symptoms may include a throbbing headache, confusion, pounding heartbeats, vision problems, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, sweating, clammy skin, blue lips, weak or shallow breathing, loss of movement, seizure, or fainting.

What should I avoid while taking nitroglycerin?

Avoid getting up too fast from a sitting or lying position, or you may feel dizzy.

Drinking alcohol can increase certain side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, feeling light-headed, or fainting.

Nitroglycerin side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives, sweating, pale skin; nausea, vomiting; feeling weak or light-headed; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • severe or throbbing headaches that do not become less severe with continued use of nitroglycerin;

  • pounding heartbeats or fluttering in your chest;

  • slow heart rate;

  • a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;

  • blurred vision or dry mouth; or

  • heart attack symptoms--chest pain or pressure, pain spreading to your jaw or shoulder, nausea, sweating.

Nitroglycerin can cause severe headaches that should become less severe as you continue to use the medicine.

Common side effects may include:

  • flushing (sudden warmth, redness, or tingly feeling);

  • feeling light-headed, fainting;

  • headache, dizziness; or

  • numbness, tingling, burning pain.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect nitroglycerin?

Tell your doctor about all your current medicines, especially:

This list is not complete and many other drugs may affect nitroglycerin. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible drug interactions are listed here.

Popular FAQ

To treat an angina attack place the contents of one or two packets of GoNitro powder under the tongue at the onset of the attack. Follow the seven steps for how best to administer the contents of the packet.

An additional packet can be administered every five minutes as required.

Do not use more than three packets within 15 minutes.

Seek medical help straight away if chest pain persists after three packets of GoNitro have been administered. Continue reading

More FAQ

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.