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What Factors Affect Clonidine Dosage?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 01 November 2016
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The most important factors affecting clonidine dosage are the patient’s underlying condition and response to the drug. Another influential element is the form in which the medication is given. Additionally, age or the presence of other medical conditions may alter what doctors consider an appropriate amount.

Clonidine most often treats hypertension, but it has many off-label uses, too. It can be prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), for bipolar disorder, or as a migraine preventative. Alternately, the drug may treat pain or ease withdrawal from alcohol, opiates or benzodiazepines. Since the desired effects vary, clonidine dosage also differs.

For hypertension, the typical starting dose of clonidine is 0.2 milligrams (mg) per day. As treatment continues, blood pressure is regularly evaluated. The medication may be increased at a rate of 0.1 mg per week to up to 0.6 mg each day. Clearly, the patient response is just as important as the condition when determining the right clonidine dosage.

Children with ADHD who are older than six can also take as much as 0.6 mg per day. In most cases, they’ll use much less of the drug. Especially younger kids may have their symptoms effectively treated with 0.1 mg daily.

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Clonidine dosage for bipolar disorder and other mental health conditions like anxiety disorders tends to be 0.2 mg daily. For substance withdrawal, patients may find comfort with 0.1-0.2 mg. Migraine prevention is often achieved with 0.2 mg, too.

Doses of clonidine can differ somewhat depending on whether it is in pill or patch forms. Skin patches containing the drug tend to deliver 0.1 mg per day. Since the delivery is transdermal, the drug has greater bioavailability and this dose is considered equivalent to 0.2 mg taken orally.

As evidenced by the dosage amounts in micrograms, clonidine is a strong medicine. In some populations, such as among the elderly, the introduction of the drug at 200 micrograms or 0.2 mg may be cause too many side effects. As a general caution, therapy with this drug in older patients should have a slower initiation period. Similarly, clonidine dosage in people with renal (kidney) disease usually should start slowly to avoid potentially negative reactions.

Timing of the dosage can also be important. The first few days of clonidine may cause unpleasant symptoms like dizziness or drowsiness. Patients may have fewer side effects if they take the medication at night, when its promotion of sleepiness is actually an advantage. Another issue regarding clonidine dosage is how to safely discontinue the medication, which can cause side effects if patients abruptly stop taking it. Tapering the dose over several days is recommended to avoid unpleasant symptoms.

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donasmrs
Post 3

@SarahGen-- I completely agree. A very small dose of clonidine medication is very effective for most people.

I use clonidine for anxiety. Initially, my doctor prescribed 0.2mg tablets for me. But it was too much. It was making me dizzy and groggy. I had to break the tablets into two and use 0.1mg per day. My doctor now prescribes me 0.1mg tablets. It works great at this dose and the only side effect I have now is mild fatigue.

SarahGen
Post 2

@fBoyle-- Yes, low doses are used because of clonidine side effects. When used for high blood pressure or opiate withdrawal, the typical dose is 0.1mg.

As far as I know, other off-label uses start at even lower doses like 0.05mg. Even if higher doses are going to be used, doctors start off their patients at low doses and slowly increase it over time. Since clonidine is a blood pressure medication, it can lower blood pressure to dangerous levels when used in higher doses for off-label purposes. And no one should use clonidine without the approval and supervision of their doctor.

fBoyle
Post 1

I didn't know that clonidine doses are so small. It must be a very potent drug. I've read that clonidine can reduce flushing caused by rosacea or menopause. What dose is typical when clonidine is used for flushing?

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