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Clonidine

  • Clonidine (klon-ih-deen) is a medicine that can be used to treat a number of conditions including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), tic disorders (e.g. Tourette’s syndrome), sleeping problems, pain, high blood pressure and to help with the weaning of strong pain medication.

    Clonidine tablets are made by different companies, and different brands of the same medicine have different names (e.g. Catapres, APO-Clonidine).

    Giving your child clonidine

    Your child’s doctor will work out the amount (the dose) of clonidine that is right for your child. The dose will be shown on the medicine label. Always check that you are giving the right amount of clonidine. Giving too much clonidine can be dangerous because it can make your child drowsy and affect their breathing. It is important to store clonidine out of children’s reach. If more than one person usually gives your child their medication, make sure that you tell each other and write down doses given so that you don’t give extra doses by mistake.

    Clonidine comes in tablet form, there is no commercially made liquid form (or suspension) available. The RCH Pharmacy department make an oral liquid form for patients who are prescribed small doses and cannot take tablets. Compounding pharmacies may also make liquid forms of clonidine, these may have different amounts of clonidine to the RCH liquid. Patients should use the tablet form where possible to prevent dosing mistakes.

    Clonidine patches are not registered in Australia but may be imported for some patients. Always remove the old patch before applying a new one. Fold the used patch in half with the sticky sides together and put it in the bin out of the reach of children and pets.

    When should I give clonidine?

    For sleep disorders: clonidine is best given about an hour before bedtime.

    For ADHD and tic disorders (e.g. Tourette’s syndrome): your doctor will tell you the time of day to give your child clonidine based on their needs. 

    For pain relief or when weaning strong pain medication: give your child clonidine as advised by your doctor/pharmacist or hospital pain team staff.

    Possible side effects

    Medicines sometimes have side effects. Some side effects will go away with time, or come back after the dose has been changed. Speak to your child’s doctor if you are worried about any of the following possible side effects of clonidine:

    • Tiredness
    • Dizziness
    • Fainting
    • Dry mouth
    • Constipation

    Take care with some activities like bike riding or climbing, or, for teenagers, driving or operating heavy machinery.

    You should call an ambulance immediately if your child:

    • is very drowsy or difficult to wake up
    • shows any signs of an allergic reaction (e.g. skin rash or swelling of the lips, mouth or throat, or difficulty breathing [short of breath, puffing when speaking])

    There may be other side effects that are not listed in this fact sheet. If you notice anything unusual or are worried about your child, contact your doctor or pharmacist.

    What to do if a dose is missed

    Skip the missed dose and continue giving the clonidine at normal times.

    • Never give a double dose to make up for a missed dose as this may make your child too sleepy or affect their blood pressure. 
    • You do not need to wake up a sleeping child to give a missed dose.

    What to do if you want to stop clonidine

    If your child takes clonidine every day and wants to stop taking clonidine, talk with a doctor in case the dose needs to be reduced slowly. If your child takes clonidine each day for a long time and stops taking it suddenly, it may cause high blood pressure or agitation.

    What to do if you give too much clonidine

    If you think you may have given your child too much clonidine, call the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 as soon as possible, even if your child shows no symptoms. In the case of an emergency, call an ambulance (000) or take your child to the nearest hospital emergency department. Have the medicine container or packaging with you, even if it is empty, as this information is useful.

    General medicine advice

    • Store clonidine out of children’s reach and always keep medicine in the container or box that it came in.
    • Give clonidine only as directed and only to the person who the medicine was prescribed for. Never give it to another person as this could do harm.
    • If your child needs surgery, you must tell the anaesthetist that your child is taking clonidine.
    • Store clonidine tablets and suspension at room temperature, in a cool, dry place away from heat or direct sunlight, below 250C.
    • If your child is no longer taking clonidine, return any unused medicine to your local pharmacy or hospital for disposal.

    Key points to remember

    • Store clonidine out of children’s reach.
    • Use the tablet form where possible to reduce mistakes with doses.
    • Never give a double dose to make up for a missed dose as this may make your child too sleepy and affect their blood pressure.
    • Call an ambulance immediately if your child is very drowsy or difficult to wake up, has any signs of an allergic reaction or has difficulty breathing. 

    For more information

    Common questions our doctors are asked

    Can other medicines be given at the same time as clonidine?

    Check with your doctor or pharmacist before giving any other medicines to your child. This includes prescription medicine, medicine purchased from a pharmacy or supermarket without a prescription and herbal or complementary medicines.

    Can I stop giving my child clonidine suddenly?

    If you or your child want to stop taking clonidine, discuss this with your doctor. They can explain how to reduce the dose slowly over time.

    Developed by The Royal Children's Hospital Quality and Improvement, General Paediatrics and Anaesthesia and Pain Management Departments. We acknowledge the input of RCH consumers and carers. 

    Developed May 2022. 

    Kids Health Info is supported by The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation. To donate, visit www.rchfoundation.org.au. 

           


Disclaimer  

This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.