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Brand Name(s) : Ephedrine hydrochloride
Side Effects


Ephedrine hydrochloride should be used with caution in:

It should not be used in:

Also see list of precautions and interactions


Do not store above 25°C. Store in the original container in order to protect from light.


What is it used for?

  • Ephedrine hydrochloride is used to treat and prevent breathing difficulties due to asthma.
  • It is a sympathomimetic agent, sometimes known as an adrenoreceptor agonist or bronchodilator.
  • It is used to open up the airways by relaxing the smooth muscles in the lungs to help people with asthma breathe more easily. In an asthma attack, the lung smooth muscle contracts making it difficult to breathe properly. Ephedrine hydrochloride relaxes the lung smooth muscle, but also makes the smooth muscle of blood vessels narrow leading to side effects.
  • In general this drug is used to treat and prevent asthma, but is less widely used than selective ß2 agonist such as salbutamol and terbutaline due to its safety profile.
  • Benefits of being on this drug can include relief from symptoms such as chest tightness, breathlessness, wheezing and cough.

Listed below are the typical uses of Ephedrine hydrochloride.

  • Treatment or prevention of wheezing in asthma

On occasion your doctor may prescribe this medicine to treat a condition not on the above list.


How often do I take it?

  • Take this medication by mouth usually 3 times daily, with or without food. Swallow the tablets with a drink of water.
  • Use this medication regularly in order to get the most benefit from it.
  • Remember to use it at the same time each day - unless specifically told otherwise by your doctor.
  • It may take up to 1 to 2 hours before the full benefit of this drug takes effect. The effect of ephedrine usually lasts for 7 to 8 hours.
  • Certain medical conditions may require different dosage instructions as directed by your doctor.

What dose?

  • Dosage is based on your age, gender, medical condition, response to therapy, and use of certain interacting medicines.

Do I need to avoid anything?

  • This medicine is unlikely to affect driving ability or the ability to operate machinery.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol as it affect how this medications works. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details.

When can I stop?

  • It is important to continue taking this medication even if you feel well, unless your doctor tells you to stop.


  • Fast heart beat
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling sick (nausea)
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Trembling
  • Dry mouth
  • Cold hands and feet due to poor blood circulation
  • High blood pressure
  • Headache
  • Abnormal heart rhythm (cardiac arrhythmias)
  • Drug dependence
  • Heart attack (very rare side effect)
  • In children, it may cause bed-wetting, and feeling sleepy and drowsy

If any of these persist or you consider them severe then inform your doctor or pharmacist.

Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.

A serious allergic reaction to this drug is unlikely, but seek immediate medical attention if it occurs. Symptoms of a serious allergic reaction include: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), dizziness, trouble breathing.

This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.

The Yellow Card Scheme allows you to report suspected side effects from any type of medicine (which includes vaccines, herbals and over the counter medicines) that you are taking. It is run by the medicines safety watchdog called the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory agency (MHRA). Please report any suspected side effect on the Yellow Card Scheme website.


Before taking ephedrine hydrochloride, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or to other adrenergic drugs; or if you have any other allergies.

This medication should not be used if you have certain medical conditions. Before using this medicine, consult your doctor or pharmacist in case of:

  • Known allergy to ephedrine or any of the other ingredients in the tablets
  • Reduced blood flow to your heart (ischaemic heart disease)
  • High blood pressure
  • Clinical conditions due to high levels of thyroid hormones (thyrotoxicosis)
  • An enlarged prostate gland
  • Rare hereditary problems of galactose intolerance, the Lapp lactase deficiency or glucose-galactose malabsorption (as the tablets contain lactose)

Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially any of the following

  • An overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism)
  • An eye condition known as angle closure glaucoma (increased pressure in the eye causing problems with vision)
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney problems

Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist that you are taking this medication.

Does alcohol intake affect this drug?

  • Alcohol intake may affect how this medications works and is best avoided.

The elderly: ephedrine hydrochloride can be used in the elderly. However, the elderly are more sensitive to some of the side effects of the medication.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding - please ensure you read the detailed information below


Ephedrine hydrochloride is not safe to take if you are, or are planning to become, pregnant.

It is sensible to limit use of medication during pregnancy whenever possible. However, your doctor may decide that the benefits outweigh the risks in individual circumstances and after a careful assessment of your specific health situation.

If you have any doubts or concerns you are advised to discuss the medicine with your doctor or pharmacist.


Ephedrine hydrochloride is not safe to take if you are breastfeeding.

It is sensible to limit use of medication during breastfeeding whenever possible. However, your doctor may decide that the benefits outweigh the risks in individual circumstances and after a careful assessment of your specific health situation.

If you have any doubts or concerns you are advised to discuss the medicine with your doctor or pharmacist.


Before using this medicine, tell your prescriber of all the medicines you are taking including prescription medicines and medicines you have bought over the counter without a prescription. Tell your prescriber if you are taking vitamins or complementary remedies such as herbal products, as these can also interact with medicines.

If you are taking more than one medicine, these may interact with each other. Your prescriber may decide to use medicines which interact with each other if the benefit outweighs the risks. In these cases, the dose of your medicines may need to be adjusted or you may be monitored more closely.

The following medicines may interact with ephedrine hydrochloride:

  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors used to treat depression such as isocarboxazid, phenelzine, moclobemide and rasagiline; or have taken them in the previous 2 weeks.
  • Corticosteroids such as dexamethasone and prednisolone used to treat asthma and inflammatory conditions
  • General anaesthetics such as halothane
  • Medicines used to lower blood pressure and heart problems such as beta blockers e.g. atenolol and propranolol and alpha blockers (e.g. doxazosin and prazosin)
  • Medicines used to treat migraine such as methysergide and ergotamine
  • Medicines to treat depression known as tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline and dosulepin
  • Oxytocin used to induce labour and prevent bleeding
  • Theophylline used to treat asthma
    • This information does not contain all possible interactions. Therefore, tell your prescriber of all the products you are using before taking this medicine.

      If you have a question or want to discuss anything about your medicine, speak to your local pharmacist.


Taking too much ephedrine hydrochloride, may cause the following: feeling or being sick, high blood pressure, fever, fast and /or irregular heartbeat, restlessness, slow and shallow breathing and fits. Mental problems such as abnormal thoughts, delusions and seeing things that are not there (hallucinations) may also occur.

If you think you, or someone you care for, might have accidentally taken more than the recommended dose of ephedrine hydrochloride or intentional overdose is suspected, contact your local hospital, GP or if in England call 111. In Scotland call NHS 24. In Wales, call NHS Direct Wales. In the case of medical emergencies, always dial 999.


If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose and resume your usual dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.

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Source: Selected from data included with permission and copyrighted by Boots UK Limited. This copyrighted material is sourced from a licensed data provider and is not for distribution, except as may be authorised by the applicable terms of use.
CONDITIONS OF USE: The information in this database is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgement of healthcare professionals. The information is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, drug interactions or adverse events, nor should it be construed to indicate that use of a particular medicine is safe, appropriate or effective for you or anyone else. A healthcare professional should be consulted before taking any medicine, changing any diet, or discontinuing any course of treatment.

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