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Nitroglycerin (oral/sublingual)

Generic Name: nitroglycerin (oral/sublingual) (NYE troe GLI ser in (OR al/sub LIN gwal))
Brand Name: GoNitro, Nitrolingual, Nitromist, Nitrostat, Nitro-Time

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com on Oct 2, 2018 – 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.

Important Information

You should not use nitroglycerin if you are also using medicine to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension or erectile dysfunction.

You should not use sublingual nitroglycerin if you have severe anemia, increased pressure inside your skull, or symptoms of circulation problems or shock (pale skin, cold sweat, sudden weakness or feeling like you might pass out).

Before taking this medicine

You should not use nitroglycerin if you are allergic to it, or if you are using medicine to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension, such as riociguat (Adempas), sildenafil (Revatio), or tadalafil (Adcirca).

Do not take erectile dysfunction medicine (Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, Stendra, Staxyn, sildenafil, avanafil, tadalafil, vardenafil). Using erectile dysfunction medicine with nitroglycerin can cause a sudden and serious decrease in blood pressure.

You should not use sublingual nitroglycerin if you have:

  • severe anemia (low red blood cells);

  • a head injury, brain tumor, or increased pressure inside the skull; or

  • circulation problems or shock (pale skin, cold sweat, fast or irregular heartbeats, sudden weakness or feeling like you might pass out).

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

It is not known whether this medicine will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

It may not be safe to breast-feed while using this medicine. Ask your doctor about any risk.

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.

If you use too much nitroglycerin, it might stop working as well in controlling your symptoms.

Nitroglycerin is usually taken at the first sign of chest pain. You may use nitroglycerin sublingual within 5 to 10 minutes before an activity you think might cause chest pain. 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.

Seek emergency medical attention if your chest pain gets worse or lasts more than 5 minutes, especially if you have trouble breathing or feel weak, dizzy, or nauseated, or lightheaded.

You may feel a slight burning or stinging in your mouth when you use nitroglycerin. This is not a sign of how well the medicine is working. Do not use more just because you do not feel a burning or stinging.

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 tablets in the original glass container, tightly closed when not in use.

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?

Since nitroglycerin is used when needed, you may not be on a dosing schedule. If you are on a schedule, the medicine as soon as you can, but skip the missed dose if your next dose is due in less than 2 hours. 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 severe throbbing headache, confusion, fever, fast or pounding heartbeats, dizziness, vision problems, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, trouble breathing, cold or clammy skin, fainting, and seizures.

What should I avoid while taking nitroglycerin?

Avoid driving or hazardous activity until you know how nitroglycerin will affect you. Your reactions could be impaired. 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; 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. These headaches may gradually become less severe as you continue to use nitroglycerin. Do not stop taking this medicine. Ask your doctor before using any headache pain medication.

Common side effects may include:

  • headache, dizziness;

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

  • numbness; or

  • mild burning or tingling with the tablet in your mouth.

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.

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.

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