Labetalol - a beta-blocker

Take labetalol tablets twice daily after food.

Treatment is usually long-term. Continue to take the tablets regularly unless you are told otherwise.

If you buy any cough or cold remedies, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable to take alongside labetalol.

The most common side-effects are feeling tired, cold fingers or toes, headache and stomach upset.

About labetalol

Type of medicine A beta-adrenoceptor blocking drug (often referred to as a beta-blocker)
Used for High blood pressure
Also called Trandate®
Available as Tablets and injection

Labetalol slows down the activity of your heart by stopping messages sent by some nerves to your heart. It does this by blocking tiny areas (called beta-adrenergic receptors) where the messages are received by your heart. It also relaxes (widens) some blood vessels. These two things allow the pressure of blood within your blood vessels to be reduced.

If a beta-blocker is needed to treat high blood pressure during pregnancy, labetalol is often the medicine that is used.

Before taking labetalol

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking labetalol it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:

  • If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
  • If you have liver or kidney problems.
  • If you have low blood pressure or poor circulation.
  • If you have asthma or breathing difficulties.
  • If you have diabetes.
  • If you have psoriasis (a skin problem).
  • If you have myasthenia gravis (a condition causing muscle weakness).
  • If you have been told you have a slow heartbeat or heart block (a slow and irregular heartbeat).
  • If you have been told you have Prinzmetal's angina (chest pain caused by spasms of the heart's blood vessels).
  • If you have phaeochromocytoma (a tumour on your adrenal gland).
  • If you are taking other medicines, including those available to buy without a prescription, herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine, or if you have ever had any other severe allergic reaction.

How to take labetalol

  • Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. The leaflet will give you more information about labetalol and a full list of side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
  • Take labetalol exactly as your doctor has told you. It is usually taken twice daily (morning and evening). Your dose will be on the label of the pack to remind you.
  • Try to take your doses of labetalol at the same times each day, as this will help you to remember to take them. Take them after a meal or with a snack. It may help to swallow the tablets with a drink of water.
  • If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is almost time to take your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose when it is due. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.

Getting the most from your treatment

  • Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress.
  • It is very important to follow any dietary and lifestyle advice that you may have been given by your doctor, such as eating a healthy diet, not smoking, and taking regular exercise.
  • If you drink alcohol, ask your doctor for advice about taking labetalol and alcohol. Alcohol will add to the blood pressure lowering effect of labetalol and so may not be recommended for you.
  • If you have diabetes, labetalol may block the symptoms of low blood sugar. Your doctor will be able to advise you about this.
  • If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking a beta-blocker.
  • Treatment with labetalol is usually long-term so continue to take these tablets unless your doctor tells you to stop. Stopping treatment suddenly can cause problems in some people, so your doctor will probably want you to reduce your dose gradually if this is necessary.
  • If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable to take with labetalol. This is because some medicines (including some cough, cold and flu remedies) may affect the way it works.

Can labetalol cause problems?

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.

Common labetalol side-effects What can I do if I experience this?
Feeling dizzy, sleepy, tired or light-headed Getting up and moving more slowly may help. If you begin to
feel dizzy, lie down so that you do not faint, then sit for a few
moments before standing. This often improves after the first
week or two, but if it continues, speak with your doctor.
Feeling or being sick, stomach upset Stick to simple foods and drink plenty of water
Headache Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller. If the headache continues, speak with your doctor
Cold fingers or toes, disturbed sleep, slow heartbeat Speak with your doctor if any of these become troublesome

Important: labetalol can cause liver problems occasionally. If you notice any yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes (jaundice), let your doctor know about this straightaway.

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

How to store labetalol

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.