Atropine

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Generic Name: Atropine Brand Name(s): Generics only. No brands available.

Uses

What is atropine used for?

Atropine is commonly used for decreasing the production of saliva and secretions of the airway prior to surgery. It is also used to treat spasms in the stomach, intestines, and other organs. It may also be used to counteract the effects of certain other medicines or for other conditions as determined by your doctor.

Atropine is an anticholinergic. It works by blocking the effects of a chemical in the body (acetylcholine) in the nervous system, stomach, intestines, certain glands (e.g., salivary gland), urinary tract, and other tissues.

How should I take atropine?

Atropine is usually given as an injection at your doctor’s office, hospital, or clinic. If you will be using atropine at home, a health care provider will teach you how to use it. Be sure you understand how to use atropine. Follow the procedures you are taught when you use a dose. Contact your health care provider if you have any questions.

Do not use atropine if it contains particles, is cloudy or discolored, or if the vial is cracked or damaged.

Keep this product, as well as syringes and needles, out of the reach of children and pets. Do not reuse needles, syringes, or other materials. Ask your health care provider how to dispose of these materials after use. Follow all local rules for disposal.

How do I store atropine?

Atropine is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store atropine in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of atropine that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush atropine down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Precautions & warnings

What should I know before using atropine?

Before using this drug, tell your doctor if:

  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding. This is because, while you are expecting or feeding a baby, you should only take medicines on the recommendation of a doctor.
  • You are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • You have allergy with any of active or inactive ingredients of atropine or other medications.
  • You have any other illnesses, disorders, or medical conditions.
  • You have a history of megacolon or a predisposition to angle-closure glaucoma.
  • You have numbness due to nerve damage, prostate problems (enlarged prostate), blockage of the bladder, trouble urinating, heart problems (congestive heart failure), hiatal hernia, or open-angle glaucoma.

If your symptoms do not get better within a few days or if they get worse, check with your doctor.

Atropine may cause drowsiness or blurred vision. These effects may be worse if you take it with alcohol or certain medicines. Use atropine with caution. Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to it.

Do not drink alcohol or use medicines that may cause drowsiness (e.g., sleep aids, muscle relaxers) while you are using atropine; it may add to their effects. Ask your pharmacist if you have questions about which medicines may cause drowsiness.

Do not become overheated in hot weather or while you are being active; heatstroke may occur.

Report any symptoms of fluid or electrolyte loss to your doctor: dry mouth; thirst; weakness; lethargy; drowsiness; restlessness; muscle pain or cramps; muscle weakness; low blood pressure; infrequent urination; rapid heartbeat; stomach disorders such as nausea and vomiting.

Atropine may make your eyes more sensitive to sunlight. It may help to wear sunglasses.

Tell your doctor or dentist that you take atropine before you receive any medical or dental care, emergency care, or surgery.

Use atropine with caution in the elderly; they may be more sensitive to its effects.

Atropine should be used with extreme caution in children; safety and effectiveness in children have not been confirmed.

Is it safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding?

There are no adequate studies in women for determining risk when using atropine during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking atropine. Atropine is pregnancy risk category C, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

FDA pregnancy risk category reference below:

  • A=No risk
  • B=No risk in some studies
  • C=There may be some risk
  • D=Positive evidence of risk
  • X=Contraindicated
  • N=Unknown

Side effects

What side effects can occur from atropine?

Check with your doctor if any of these most common side effects persist or become bothersome:

  • Blurred vision
  • Constipation
  • Decreased salivation
  • Decreased sweating
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dilation of the pupils
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Excitement
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Hot, flushed, dry skin
  • Loss of taste
  • Mild to severe dryness of the nose and mouth
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Thirst

Seek medical attention right away if any of these severe side effects occur:

  • Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue)
  • Changes in heartbeat
  • Confusion
  • Delirium
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty focusing your eyes
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Fast/irregular heartbeat
  • Hallucinations
  • Restlessness with weakness
  • Speech disturbance
  • Unusual weakness; vomiting

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Interactions

What drugs may interact with atropine?

Atropine may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

Does food or alcohol interact with atropine?

Atropine may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with atropine?

Atropine may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have.

Dosage

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. You should ALWAYS consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using atropine.

What is the dose of atropine for an adult?

Usual Adult Dose for Bradyarrhythmia

0.4 to 1 mg IV one time. An effective dose within this range may be repeated every 1 to 2 hours as needed to achieve an adequate heart rate or within 5 to 10 minutes if the initial heart rate is inadequate. In rare instances, repeated doses as high as 2 mg are needed.

Usual Adult Dose for AV Heart Block

0.4 to 1 mg IV one time. An effective dose within this range may be repeated every 1 to 2 hours as needed to promote normal AV node conduction or within 5 to 10 minutes if the initial effect is inadequate to overcome the heart block. In rare instances, repeated doses as high as 2 mg are needed.

Usual Adult Dose for Organophosphate Poisoning

Mild symptoms of nerve agent (nerve gas) or insecticide exposure: 2 mg/0.7 mL (green) by AtroPen auto-injector into midlateral thigh followed by 2 additional 2 mg/0.7 mL (AtroPen) injections given in rapid succession are recommended 10 minutes after receiving the first injection if the victim develops any of the following severe symptoms: strange or confused behavior, severe difficulty breathing or severe secretions from the lungs and airways, severe muscular twitching and general weakness, involuntary urination and defecation, convulsions or unconsciousness.

Severe symptoms of nerve agent (nerve gas) or insecticide exposure: 3 injections of 2 mg/0.7 mL (green) by AtroPen auto-injector into midlateral thigh in rapid succession. Severe symptoms are: strange or confused behavior, severe difficulty breathing or severe secretions from the lungs and airways, severe muscular twitching and general weakness, involuntary urination and defecation, convulsions or unconsciousness.

Usual Adult Dose for Anticholinesterase Poisoning

2 to 3 mg IV one time. Doses may be repeated as needed to prevent or treat signs of parasympathomimetic activity, coma, and/or cardiovascular collapse.

What is the dose of atropine for a child?

Usual Pediatric Dose for Bradyarrhythmia

0.01 to 0.03 mg/kg IV every 5 minutes for 2 to 3 doses as needed. The minimum dose is 0.1 mg and the maximum dose is 0.5 mg. The maximum total dose is 1 mg.

Endotracheal: 0.04 to 0.06 mg/kg; may repeat once if needed.

Usual Pediatric Dose for AV Heart Block

0.01 to 0.03 mg/kg IV every 5 minutes for 2 to 3 doses as needed. The minimum dose is 0.1 mg and the maximum dose is 0.5 mg. The maximum total dose is 1 mg.

Endotracheal: 0.04 to 0.06 mg/kg; may repeat once if needed.

Usual Pediatric Dose for Organophosphate Poisoning

Infants weighing less than 15 lbs. (generally less than six months of age): use 0.25 mg/ 0.3 mL (yellow) AtroPen auto-injector

How is atropine available?

Atropine is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

  • Injection: 0.1 mg/mL, 0.05 mg/mL

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of atropine, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: July 26, 2017 | Last Modified: July 31, 2017

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