Why is this medication prescribed?
Minoxidil is used with other medications to treat high blood pressure. It is in a class of medications called vasodilators. It works by relaxing the blood vessels so that blood can flow more easily through the body.
High blood pressure is a common condition and when not treated, can cause damage to the brain, heart, blood vessels, kidneys and other parts of the body. Damage to these organs may cause heart disease, a heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, loss of vision, and other problems. In addition to taking medication, making lifestyle changes will also help to control your blood pressure. These changes include eating a diet that is low in fat and salt, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising at least 30 minutes most days, not smoking, and using alcohol in moderation.
How should this medicine be used?
Minoxidil comes as a tablet to take by mouth. It usually is taken once or twice a day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take minoxidil exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Minoxidil controls high blood pressure but does not cure it. Continue to take minoxidil even if you feel well. Do not stop taking minoxidil without talking to your doctor.
Other uses for this medicine
This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before taking minoxidil,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to minoxidil, any other medications,or any of the ingredients in minoxidil tablets. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: diuretics (‘water pills’), guanethidine, and other medications for high blood pressure.
- tell your doctor if you have pheochromocytoma (adrenal gland tumor). Your doctor will probably tell you not to take minoxidil.
- tell your doctor if you have had a recent heart attack, or if you have heart or kidney disease.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking minoxidil, call your doctor.
- if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking minoxidil.
- you should know that this medication may make you drowsy. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how it affects you.
- ask your doctor about the safe use of alcohol while you are taking minoxidil. Alcohol can make the side effects from minoxidil worse.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
Your doctor may prescribe a low-salt or low-sodium diet. Follow these directions carefully.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Minoxidil may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- increase in size or darkness of fine body hair
- breast tenderness
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms, or those listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING section, call your doctor immediately:
- fast heartbeat
- swollen ankles or feet
- unexplained weight gain
- difficulty breathing
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom).
Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA’s Safe Disposal of Medicines website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org
In case of emergency/overdose
In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can’t be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.
What other information should I know?
Your doctor may ask you to check your pulse (heart rate) daily. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to teach you how to do this. Call your doctor if your heart rate increases by more than 20 beats per minute while at rest.
Weigh yourself every day. Call your doctor if you experience rapid weight gain.
Do not let any one else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.