Atenolol and Propranolol

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Atenolol (a-TEN-o-lol) is the generic name for the medicine Tenormin® (ten-OR-min). Propranolol (pro-PRAN-o-lol) is the generic name for the medicine Inderal® (in-DER-ol). Atenolol and propranolol belong to a group of medicines called beta-blockers. These medicines are used to manage very fast heartbeats (arrhythmias) and high blood pressure (hypertension). These medicines do not cure these problems, but they can help control them.

Beta-blockers work by making the heart beat more slowly and by keeping the blood vessels open so the blood can flow more freely.

These medicines must be taken every day, even if your child is feeling fine. Your child should not stop taking these medicines unless told to do so by your doctor.

If your child is allergic to atenolol, propranolol, or any other beta-blocker (such as metoprolol or sotalol), he or she should not take this medicine. Tell your child’s doctor if your child has asthma. These medicines may make the asthma worse. These medicines may also cover up symptoms of very low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Tell your child’s doctor if your child has diabetes.

doctors order form

Taking this Medicine

  • Read the label carefully and make sure you are giving your child the right amount. It is easy to confuse the many different dosage forms and strengths.

  • Give the exact dose of medicine that your doctor ordered.

  • Stay with your child until he or she has swallowed the dose of medicine.

  • If your child has trouble taking medicine, ask your nurse for the Helping Hand HH-IV-28, Medications: How to Give by Mouth.

  • This medicine may be taken with or without food. If it upsets your child’s stomach, give the medicine with food.

  • It is very important to give the medicine every day as ordered, even if your child is feeling fine.

Foods and Other Drugs with this Medicine

  • Check with your doctor or pharmacist before giving any other medicine, including non-prescription medicines (such as antacids or cold medicines).

  • If your child is taking this medicine for arrhythmias, he should not drink large amounts of soft drinks, chocolate drinks, tea or coffee while taking the medicine.

  • If your child is taking an antacid, he or she should take it 2 hours before or 2 hours after taking atenolol or propranolol.

diagram of mom giving child antacid

If You Forget to Give a Dose

If you forget to give a dose of this medicine, give it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for the next dose, do not give the missed dose at all. Do not double the next dose. Instead, go back to your regular dosing schedule. If you have any questions about this, check with your child's doctor or pharmacist.

If A Dose Is Vomited

  • If your child gags or chokes and spits out the dose before swallowing it, let the child calm down and then give the same amount one more time.

  • If the medicine is vomited (thrown up) after your child swallows it, do not repeat the dose. (Some of the medicine may still be in the stomach.) The strong taste of the medicine may be why your child vomited. At the next scheduled dose, try giving the medicine in applesauce or pudding. If the vomiting continues, call your child's doctor.

Possible Side Effects

  • Slow heartbeat

  • Tiredness or weakness

  • Wheezing or trouble breathing

  • Fainting or dizziness

  • Raise blood sugar

  • Nightmares

  • Lower blood sugar

  • Upset stomach or diarrhea

  • May make asthma worse

If your child becomes sleepy (drowsy) do not let him ride a bike or work machinery (such as a lawnmower or car), or take part in any activities where he must stay alert to be safe.

When to Call the Doctor

If your child is having any of these symptoms:

  • Slow, fast, or irregular heartbeat

  • Chest pain

  • Fainting or severe dizziness

  • Wheezing or trouble breathing

  • Side effects that are very bothersome

  • Blood pressure above or below the limits set by your doctor

When You Get the Prescription Filled

  • Have your pharmacist give you 2 labeled containers if your child care provider or school nurse will also be giving this medicine.

  • Get this prescription refilled at least 3 days before the last dose is given. This is very important.

  • Some pharmacies may not have this medicine. Please ask your nurse to call your pharmacy before you leave the hospital to see if they have this medicine or can order it for you. You may also have the prescription filled at the Nationwide Children's Hospital Pharmacy.

Storing this Medicine

  • Store all medicine out of the reach of children.

  • Always keep medicine in the original container from the pharmacy.

  • Keep atenolol liquid in the refrigerator.

  • Keep this medicine away from heat or direct sunlight. Keep the container tightly closed and store it in a dark, dry place (not in the bathroom or above the kitchen sink). Light and moisture make this medicine less effective.

  • Do not use this medicine after the expiration date printed on the container.

Special Note for Girls

  • If a patient thinks she might be pregnant, she should tell the doctor before she begins taking this or any medicine. This medicine may cause problems in the unborn baby.

  • If a patient is breast-feeding her baby, she should tell her doctor before she begins taking this or any medicine. This medicine can pass into breast milk and cause side effects in the baby.

Safety Tips

  • Tell your child's doctor and pharmacist if your child has an unusual or allergic reaction to any medicine.

  • If you carry medicine in your purse, keep it in its childproof container and keep your purse out of the reach of children.

  • Bring all of your child's medicines with you in the original containers whenever your child sees a doctor, goes to an emergency room, or is admitted to the hospital. This helps doctors who may not know the child.

  • Learn the name, spelling, and dose of this medicine. Also, teach your child if he or she is old enough. You will need to know this information when you call your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Do not stop giving this medicine or change the amount given without first talking with your child's doctor or pharmacist.

  • The doctor has prescribed this medicine for your child only. Do not give it to anyone else.

  • If your child takes too much of this medicine, or if someone else takes it, call the Central Ohio Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 (TTY 614-228-2272). They will tell you what to do.

  • Tell your child's teacher, school nurse, coach, babysitter, grandparents, and other caregivers that your child is taking this medicine, and to watch for the side effects.

  • Your child's school will need a note from you and from the doctor if the medicine is to be given at school by the school nurse.

Follow-Up Appointments

  • You will have regular follow-up appointments with your child's doctor.

  • Write down all your questions as you think of them. Bring this list with you when you see the doctor.

  • Call the doctor’s office if you cannot keep the appointment.

If you have any questions about this medicine, ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Atenolol and Propanolol (PDF)

HH-V-188 6/02, Revised 1/15 Copyright 2002, Nationwide Children’s Hospital