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Nitroglycerin Overdose

Seek immediate medical care if you believe you have used too much nitroglycerin, as an overdose with this medication can be dangerous. Some effects of an overdose may include vision problems, a severe headache, and paralysis. If treatment is necessary, it will likely involve supportive care, which consists of treating any symptoms that occur as a result of an overdose.

Can You Use Too Much Nitroglycerin?

Nitroglycerin (Minitran™, Nitro-Bid®, Nitro-Dur®, Nitrolingual®, NitroMist®, Nitrostat®, Rectiv™) is a prescription medication most commonly used for the treatment or prevention of chest pain (angina) due to coronary artery disease. As with most medications, it is possible to use too much nitroglycerin. In fact, an overdose with this medicine can be dangerous.
 

Effects of an Overdose

Some of the known effects of an overdose with any nitroglycerin product include:
 
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting (signs of low blood pressure)
  • A spinning sensation (vertigo)
  • Feelings of a rapidly or forcefully beating heart (heart palpitations)
  • A severe, throbbing headache
  • Confusion
  • Fever
  • Vision problems
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • A slow heart rate
  • Blue skin, a sign of methemoglobinemia
  • Paralysis
  • Coma
  • Seizures
  • Death.
 

Treating a Nitroglycerin Overdose

Treatment for a nitroglycerin overdose, if necessary, will involve supportive care, which consists of treating the symptoms that occur as a result of the overdose. Of greatest importance, usually, is an effort to increase blood pressure. To do this, intravenous fluids can be quite useful, but can also be dangerous in certain individuals with kidney failure or congestive heart failure.
 
If methemoglobinemia occurs, the treatment of choice is usually methylene blue, given intravenously (by IV). Methemoglobinemia is a condition in which the oxygen carried in the bloodstream cannot be released to the body's tissue normally. It can be serious if left untreated.
 
It is important that you seek medical attention immediately if you believe that you or someone else may have used too much nitroglycerin.
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