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Beta blockers – uses, health risks, and side effects at

Friday, August 17, 2018 by

Beta blockers are a class of drugs that help temporarily stop or reduce the body’s natural “fight-or-flight” responses. They also minimize stress on various parts of the body, like the heart and the blood vessels in the brain.

Beta blockers can lower blood pressure and prevent heart attacks. These drugs can also improve the outlook for patients with heart failure.

Beta blockers are often prescribed for various conditions like:

  • Angina
  • Anxiety
  • High blood pressure
  • Glaucoma
  • A migraine
  • Overactive thyroid symptoms
  • Some abnormal heart rhythms

Beta blockers are also called beta antagonists, beta-adrenergic antagonists, or beta-adrenergic blocking agents. Beta blockers are either selective (those that affect the heart) or non-selective (those that target other parts of the body).

Some common types and brands of beta blockers include:

  • atenolol (Tenormin)
  • metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL)
  • nadolol (Corgard)
  • propranolol (Hemangeol, Inderal LA, Inderal XL, InnoPran XL)
  • timolol ophthalmic solution (Betimol, Istalol, Timoptic)

Known health risks or side effects of beta blockers

Beta blockers may cause common side effects such as:

  • Cold feet and hands
  • Dizziness, nausea, and weakness
  • Dry mouth, skin, and eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Swelling of the hands and feet
  • Weight gain

Less common side effects of the drug may include:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Back or joint pain
  • Confusion, depression, or memory loss
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Sleeping difficulties and disturbances

List of organs that might be affected by beta blockers

Patients with asthma or diabetes need to consult a healthcare professional before they take a beta blocker. The drugs can trigger a severe asthma attack or mask the symptoms of low blood sugar.

If you believe you’ve taken too much of this drug, consult a healthcare professional. If your symptoms are severe, go to the nearest emergency room immediately.

Food items or nutrients that have similar effects to beta blockers

The following foods or nutrients have similar effects to beta blockers:

  • Chamomile tea – Drink chamomile tea daily to help lower your blood pressure. Use a tea bag or the equivalent amount of loose tea, then add it to a cup of hot water.
  • Garlic – Garlic can help lower blood pressure. Consume it raw or as an extract, juice, powder, syrup, or tincture. In place of a beta blocker, follow labeling directions equivalent to one-half of two raw garlic cloves every day.
  • HawthornHawthorn can help steady the heartbeat and increase the heart’s tolerance to oxygen deficiency. Add two teaspoons of crushed hawthorn leaves or fruit to a cup of boiling water. Drink this mixture twice daily.

Treatment and management options for the side effects of beta blockers

The following treatments and management options can help prevent the side effects associated with beta blockers:

  • BRAT diet If you have diarrhea, follow the “BRAT” diet. BRAT stands for “bananas, rice, apples, toast,” and these bland foods won’t aggravate the digestive system. They are also binding, meaning they can help make your stools firmer.
  • NutsIf you feel tired or weak, add more nuts to your diet. Nuts are full of healthy fats, protein, minerals, and vitamins that can boost your energy.
  • PapayaIf you have an upset stomach, eat some papaya. The fruit can help ease indigestion and address constipation. Papaya has papain and chymopapain, two enzymes that can help break down proteins and soothe the stomach by encouraging a healthy acidic environment.

Where to learn more


Beta blockers can lower blood pressure and prevent heart attacks.

Beta blockers may cause common side effects such as cold feet and hands, diarrhea, fatigue, and weight gain.

Beta blockers can trigger a severe asthma attack or mask the symptoms of low blood sugar.

Chamomile tea, garlic, and hawthorn have similar effects to beta blockers.

The BRAT diet, nuts, and papaya can help prevent the side effects associated with beta blockers.

Sources include:


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