Amitriptyline Side Effects: Common And Rare Risks

side effects of Elavil

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Elavil, a tricyclic antidepressant, also known by its generic name amitriptyline, produces side effects in patients similar to other medications of its drug class. There are amitriptyline side effects that are more common than others since they are manifested in many of the patients. The side effects of amitriptyline may also vary in intensity, with some patients reporting mild symptoms, while others experience more adverse side effects. Of importance, however, is that patients who experience side effects of Elavil should seek professional medical assistance to help manage them.

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Learn About Elavil Side Effects:

What Are The Most Common Side Effects Of Amitriptyline?

These reactions are those which are most commonly experienced by patients. These usual amitriptyline reactions are usually far less acute and tend to disappear with continual usage of the drug. However, if these symptoms do not disappear, users are advised to consult a doctor. The common side effects of amitriptyline HCl may include the following:

  • dry mouth
  • drowsiness
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • gastrointestinal upset
  • constipation
  • weight gain
  • nausea or vomiting
  • excessive sweating

Elavil causes dry mouth

Does Amitriptyline Cause Dry Mouth?

Yes, Elavil does cause the development of a dry mouth. This side effect is common for many patients who take a dose as little as 40 mg before bedtime. To prevent the dry mouth side effects of Elavil, patients are advised to discuss the schedule of drug intake with their doctor.

If dry mouth manifests during a day, it is helpful to:

  • suck on a hard treat that is without sugar;
  • chew gum that doesn’t have sugar;
  • use manmade forms of the mucus secretions (saliva substitutes);
  • drink a lot of water to remain hydrated.

Does Amitriptyline Make One Sleepy?

Indeed, Elavil causes languor or sleepiness. This is one of the amitriptyline common side effects which can be ascribed to the medication’s response to histamine levels in the cerebrum. Besides, patients will, in general, report drowsiness when they get a dosage increment. It is prudent not to drive or operate heavy equipment during this period, and Elavil dosage increase should be done, at least, in 7 days.

how Elavil affects sleep

Rare Side Effects Of Elavil

These are amitriptyline adverse effects that are less commonly experienced by patients and may include:

  • difficult or painful urination
  • abnormal heart rhythm
  • decreased sex drive
  • blurred vision
  • low blood pressure
  • nervousness
  • muscle tremors
  • suicidal thoughts
  • hallucination
  • difficulties with attention
  • acute glaucoma
  • yellowing of the skin or the white part of the eyes
  • cloudy thinking
Patients are advised to seek medical assistance from a doctor if they experience any of the amitriptyline adverse effects. Elavil may also make some patients experience increased photosensitivity. Use of sunscreen when outside and avoidance of tanning beds are ways to mitigate this reaction. In addition, hallucinations and urinary retention occur as side effects of amitriptyline HCl with continual usage as a result of its binding to muscarinic receptors in the body.

Does Amitriptyline Cause Hair Loss?

Yes, hair loss is one of the rare but long term effects of amitriptyline use. However, this side effect is usually reversible; patients should talk to a doctor if they experience it. Tricyclic antidepressants (TCA is Elavil classification) and SSRIs are known to cause hair loss, although not that common. Elavil’s weight gain is another long term side effect of the two drug classes.

dangers of Elavil for people with heart problems

Can Amitriptyline Cause Heart Problems?

Irregular heartbeat is one of the uncommon side effects of Elavil. It raises the pulse by influencing the electrical signals in the heart, making it beat quicker. Amitriptyline drug interactions for those patients who take MAOIs such as isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue infusion, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, or tranylcypromine can likewise cause incredible hypertension.

Patients who have lately endured a coronary episode should not take Elavil due to the side effects of amitriptyline HCl that cause an expanded pulse. Moreover, patients need to inform their physician if they suffer from the following conditions:

  • schizophrenia or bipolar
  • psychological sickness or psychosis background
  • diabetes (Elavil may affect blood sugar levels)
  • glaucoma
  • an augmented prostate
  • sensitivity related to Elavil
  • a history of heart complications, stroke, or seizures
  • experience issues peeing

Amitriptyline Sexual Side Effects

Elavil does not directly affect fertility, but patients should consult a doctor when they are trying to conceive while on it. Nonetheless, there have been cases of erectile or ejaculatory dysfunction in males and vaginal bleeding in females. This prescription influences arousal and sex drive more than sexual climax and ejaculation in male patients, but it affects only libido in female patients. However, these are not long term effects of amitriptyline on sexual life, as they usually disappear after the first few weeks of taking the drug. If these adverse reactions persist, patients are advised to seek medical assistance.

Elavil during breastfeeding

Elavil Side Effects During Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

There isn’t much research on amitriptyline adverse effects during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Hence, the drug should only be used by pregnant women when the benefits are more than the associated risks.

An amitriptyline pregnancy category is C, based on the FDA’s classification. This means that long term adverse reactions of Elavil on an unborn baby are not quite known.

Although the amount of Elavil that can be excreted from breast milk is small, a doctor should be informed if a mother plans to breastfeed or is already breastfeeding. Research of the side effects of Elavil on breastfeeding newborn children by the National Center for Biotechnology Information has discovered that a nursing mother endorsed amitriptyline 10 mg day by day for a sleeping disorder had her 15-day-old baby developed extreme sedation and diminished breastfeeding. This does not mean that each case will include the same congenital abnormality.

Know Elavil Side Effects For Their Timely Management

Amitriptyline side effects may either be acute or mild. Regardless of a condition, Elavil is prescribed to, either it is amitriptyline for migraines or MDD, some common reactions may manifest. These side effects of amitriptyline usually disappear over time when the body starts successfully tolerating the drug. The side effects of Elavil may be a result of the abuse of the medication. In this case, it is critical to consult health professionals as soon as possible to get a proper treatment plan. Such facilities as drug abuse centers are among the best to provide the right treatment.

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View Sources
  1. Amitriptyline – for depression. NHS. 2018. https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/amitriptyline-for-depression/.
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Database. Amitriptyline, CID=2160, https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Amitriptyline.
  3. Gupta B, Shakarwal MK, Kumar A, Jaju BP. Effect of amitriptyline on blood glucose level in rabbits. Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology. 1995; 39(3): 279–282. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8550126-effect-of-amitriptyline-on-blood-glucose-level-in-rabbits/.
Sharon Levy

About Author

Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

After successful graduation from Boston University, MA, Sharon gained a Master’s degree in Public Health. Since then, Sharon devoted herself entirely to the medical niche. Sharon Levy is also a certified addiction recovery coach.

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