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What is propranolol?

Propranolol is a prescription drug. It comes in these forms: oral tablet, oral extended-release capsule, oral solution, and injectable.

Propranolol oral tablet is only available in a generic form. Generic drugs usually cost less than brand-name versions.

Propranolol oral tablet may be used in combination with other drugs.

Highlights for propranolol

Propranolol oral tablet is available only as a generic drug. It doesn’t have a brand-name version.

Propranolol comes in four forms: oral tablet, extended-release oral capsule, oral liquid solution, and injectable.

Propranolol oral tablet reduces your heart’s workload and helps it beat more regularly. It’s used to treat high blood pressure, angina, atrial fibrillation, and tremor. It’s also used to prevent migraines and help control thyroid and adrenal gland tumors.

Why it's used

  • Propranolol reduces your heart’s workload and helps it beat more regularly. It’s used to:
  • treat high blood pressure
  • control heart rhythm in atrial fibrillation
  • relieve angina (chest pain)
  • prevent migraines
  • reduce shaking or essential tremor
  • help with medical conditions involving your thyroid and adrenal glands
  • support heart function after a heart attack

How it works

Propranolol belongs to a class of drugs called beta blockers. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

Propranolol is a non-selective beta receptor blocking agent. This means it works similarly on the heart, lungs, and other areas of the body.

The way that this drug works to lower blood pressure is not clearly understood. It reduces the workload of the heart and blocks the release of a substance called renin from the kidneys.

The beta-blocking properties help to control heart rhythm, delay the start of chest pain, prevent migraines, and reduce tremors. It isn’t fully understood how this drug works to treat these problems.

Propranolol side effects

Propranolol oral tablet may cause drowsiness. Don’t drive, use machinery, or perform any activities that require mental alertness until you know how this drug affects you.

Propranolol can also cause other side effects.

More common side effects

The more common side effects of propranolol can include:

  • slower heart rate
  • diarrhea
  • dry eyes
  • hair loss
  • nausea
  • weakness or tiredness

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious side effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • Allergic reactions. Symptoms can include:
  • skin rash
  • itching
  • hives
  • swelling of your face, lips, or tongue
  • Breathing problems
  • Changes in blood sugar
  • Cold hands or feet
  • Nightmares or trouble sleeping
  • Dry, peeling skin
  • Hallucinations
  • Muscle cramps or weakness
  • Slow heart rate