DRUG INTERACTIONS: Tricyclic antidepressants (for example, amitriptyline [Elavil, Endep]), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (for example, tranylcypromine) should not be combined with bitolterol because of their additive effects on the vascular system (increased blood pressure, heart rate, etc.). A period of two weeks should elapse between treatment with bitolterol and tricyclic antidepressants or monoamine oxidase inhibitors.
Use of bitolterol with other stimulant medications is discouraged because of their combined effects on heart rate, blood pressure, and the potential for causing chest pain in patients with underlying coronary heart disease.
Beta-blockers, for example, propranolol (Inderal, Inderal LA), block the effect of bitolterol and may induce bronchospasm in asthmatics. Bitolterol may cause hypokalemia (low potassium). Therefore, combining bitolterol with loop diuretics, for example, furosemide (Lasix), which lowers potassium levels in the blood, may increase the likelihood of hypokalemia.
PREGNANCY: There are no adequate studies in pregnant women.
NURSING MOTHERS: It's not known if bitolterol is excreted in breast milk.
SIDE EFFECTS: Side effects of bitolterol include nervousness, tremor, headache, palpitations, fast heart rate, elevated blood pressure, nausea, dizziness, and heartburn. Throat irritation and nosebleeds can also occur. Allergic reactions may occur rarely and may manifest as rash, hives, swelling, anaphylaxis, or shock. Worsening of diabetes and lowering of potassium have also been reported. In rare patients, inhaled bitolterol can paradoxically precipitate life-threatening bronchospasm.
Reference: FDA Prescribing Information
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