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Side Effects
Serious

Shortness of breath, extreme dizziness or fainting, bluish appearance of lips, fingernails, and palms of hands, irregular heartbeat.
Common

Dizziness or lightheadedness, especially upon arising from a seated or lying position, rapid heartbeat and pulse, headache, restlessness, flushing in the face and neck. Such side effects tend to occur less frequently as your body adjusts to the medication. Contact your doctor if such symptoms do not subside quickly or if they interfere with your daily activities.
Less Common

Unusual tiredness or weakness, skin rash.
Amyl Nitrite


Drug Class:
Nitrate

Available OTC?: No

Available Generic?: Yes

Available In
Why Prescribed
How It Works
Range and Frequency
Onset of Effect
Duration of Action
Dietary Advice
Storage
Missed Dose
Stopping the Drug
Prolonged Use
Over 60
Driving and Hazardous Work
Alcohol
Pregnancy
Breast Feeding
Infants and Children
Special Concerns
Overdose Symptoms
What to Do
Drug Interactions
Food Interactions
Disease Interactions


Available In
Glass capsule

Why Prescribed
To prevent or relieve attacks of angina (chest pain associated with heart disease).

How It Works
Amyl nitrite relaxes the smooth muscle of the blood vessels and increases the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart. It also reduces the heart's workload and demand for oxygen.

Range and Frequency
No fixed schedule; take as needed. When angina attack occurs, break the protective cloth-covered glass capsule between your fingers and inhale one to six times while seated. If inhaling 2 capsules in 10 minutes does not bring relief, seek medical assistance immediately. When inhaling 2 capsules, wait three to five minutes between capsules.

Onset of Effect
Thirty seconds to five minutes.

Duration of Action
Three to five minutes.

Dietary Advice
Amyl nitrite can be taken without regard to diet.

Storage
Store away from direct light and heat. Heat may cause the medicine to break down. Do not store it in the kitchen, because amyl nitrite is flammable. Keep refrigerated, but do not allow it to freeze.

Missed Dose
Not applicable.

Stopping the Drug
Consult your doctor before stopping use.

Prolonged Use
Prolonged, too-frequent use can lead to tolerance of the drug, reducing its effectiveness. Notify your doctor if you experience an increase in angina attacks.

Over 60
Adverse reactions and side effects may be more common and severe in older persons.

Driving and Hazardous Work
The use of amyl nitrite may impair your ability to perform such tasks safely.

Alcohol
Alcohol can increase the lightheadedness caused by amyl nitrite and may cause a serious drop in blood pressure. Consult your doctor for specific advice.

Pregnancy
Use is not recommended during pregnancy because of the danger to the unborn baby.

Breast Feeding
Amyl nitrite may pass into breast milk; caution is advised. Consult your doctor for advice.

Infants and Children
Safety and effectiveness have not been determined. Consult your pediatrician.

Special Concerns
Before use, extinguish all tobacco products and stay away from open flames, since amyl nitrite is highly flammable. Dizziness is common after taking amyl nitrite; it is advisable to sit or lie down rather than remain standing while taking the medication. For relief of headache (very common following use of amyl nitrate), take acetaminophen.

Overdose Symptoms
Blue lips, palms of hands, or fingernails; extreme dizziness, extreme headache or feeling of intense pressure in the head; fainting; shortness of breath; unusual weakness; weak and rapid heartbeat.

What to Do
Call your doctor, emergency medical services (EMS), or the nearest poison control center immediately.

Drug Interactions
Consult your doctor for specific advice if you are taking drugs for high blood pressure, norepinephrine, or sympathomimetic drugs (such as ephedrine, phenyl-ephrine, or epinephrine).

Food Interactions
No known food interactions.

Disease Interactions
Caution is advised when taking amyl nitrite. Consult your doctor if you have any of the following: severe anemia, recent head trauma, recent heart attack or brain hemorrhage, glaucoma, hyperthyroidism, or prior allergic reaction to nitrates.

Date Published: 04/13/2005
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