Beta Blockers and Indigestion

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I am a 46 year old female who has suffered from chronic migraine my whole life, but it has definitely worsened during perimenopause.

I have tried many, many meds out there and have finally tried beta blockers.  I first tried Propranolol 20 mg twice a day.  It worked almost immediately for my migraines, but unfortunately, I had such a bad stomach ache with horrible heartburn.  I can take zantac with it twice a day and it really helps, but I hate to have to take another drug just to take this one.  However, if it works...?

So, my neuro switched me to Metoprolol to see if it would help me but not cause the indigestion.  This one was extended release tablets and I took one last night after dinner, and about 1 hour later, I was in misery.  Once again, indigestion and heartburn off the charts.  I took a zantac and it helped again.

I was wondering if anyone else gets terrible heartburn/indigestion from these meds and what you do to prevent it (taking zantac?).  

I was also considering trying verapamil (calcium channel blocker) instead to see if that helped without the same side effects.  However, I have read that these drugs cause slower indigestion as well.  

I just don't know what to do at this point.

Any advice is greatly appreciated!

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  • Posted

    janecat71..sorry you're going through such a terrible time. A beta blocker to stop headaches??? Never heard of such a thing, but then again, I'm not a physician. There are different medications for heartburn. My doctor recently prescribed Tecta. After about a week, I was having stomach upset, along with diarrhea. He advised me to stop the medication completely until Monday, then resume taking the medication every-other-day, then we'd see how it all goes. Just because a lot of patients have a good response to a medication, doesn't mean you will or won't. We're all individuals. 

    In the early 2000's, I was having migraines...A colleague was experiencing the same thing & suggested I ask my doctor about "Maxalt". The wafer would be better because in my job, I had limited access to water. The 'wafer' melts instantly on the tongue, & has a flat minty flavour. It works quickly, & I had success with it. "Maxalt" is also available in table form, but this may depend on what is provided in your country or pharmacy.

    My advice to you would be to think carefully about taking blood pressure medications. Yes, verapamil IS a blood pressure medication! Also, a common side effect is headache, believe it or not. If you're suffering from migraine, why put yourself at risk of a headache from the medication!!???????

    Metropolol while being a beta blocker can also be used to help control blood pressure. If the Metropolol is causing you to have bad headaches. Metropolol crosses the blood brain barrier. I was taking Metropolol a few years ago, & I had the worst headaches. There was a pattern..I'd take the medication say at 7am..& by 11am., I had a bad headache. I could set my watch by the timing of it. ATENOLOL on the other hand, which is also a beta blocker does NOT cross the blood brain barrier. I take this medication, & do not have headaches by taking it.

    This might be something to consider when talking with your doctor. 

    Your Neuro won't be able to help you much with the heartburn, etc, & if your misery continues in this area., you could suggest to the doctor that you have a gastroscopy. 

    Please let me know how you get on. Best wishes.

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    • Posted

      Hi Mike,

      Thank you for the quick response.  

      Yes, Propranolol, in fact, is FDA approved for migraines I believe.  Strange, I know!

      That's interesting that your Dr said to try it every other day.  

      I already use Maxalt and Amerge (triptans) to abort my migraines.  They work very well.  But I need something to take every day to prevent them since I can only take so many triptans per month.  I'm already on a very small dosage of amitriptyline that does help my migraines, but not enough lately.

      I am very fortunate that the beta blockers DO help my migraines significantly - especially the propranolol.  So strange how everyone is affected differently.  I am amazed that so many people can take beta blockers with no side effects.  I never usually have heartburn, but these beta blockers are doing a number on my stomach!

      Thanks again for your advice....still figuring out what to do next...

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    • Posted

      betablockers can be used for migraines of all kinds, one effect - possibly the only good effect - was that they did take away what had been diagnosed as vestibular migraines, in fact in the few months i took them that problem disappeared.  Sadly, so many other problems came back that i had to stop, and then the migraine probs were back worse than before.  As to gastric, look on your patient leaflet, you will see, even on that, some of the gastric effects that are common. i had them , and had to go to zantac. i have chronic  gastritis anyway, due to mild inflammation due to some form of immunological reaction to something, and i had learnt to 90%  manage it, by being careful about what i ate, but i could not on b-bs. i looked on the patient leaflet, and there, at the very end, i found a warning that my b-b could cause a worsening of existing allergic reactions.  I had to restart more regular zantac, but the other side effects were too much, and i stopped. Unfortunately, we all have to balance things, i think, and decide what is bast for us.
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    • Posted

      Hello again janecat71...No, I don't take Propranolol. I must have caused you some confusion & if this is the case, I apologise. I DO take Atenolol, but not for headache, or migraine. It's to help control my BP.

      What the Dr. did tell me to take every-other day is the Tecta. I have to stop taking the Tecta until about Sunday or Monday...to help flush what's in my system, then we'll start fresh. It seems since I started the Tecta, I have an aching sensation in my stomach, & cramps which is causing me to visit the washroom more often. The only thing new is the Tecta, so I'm thinking that's the culprit. 

      You said you were amazed that so many people can take beta blockers without side effects. Remember, some beta blockers cross the blood brain barrier, while some do not.

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  • Posted

    I have had Heartburn occasionally for a few years now, but this year it has become sickeningly bad. Seems from what you are saying that it is yet another side effect from the Beta Blockers they gave me for VT at the beginning of the year and that have permanently made me very ill even though I stopped taking them in April.
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  • Posted

    Thank you all for your responses.  I did end up stopping the metoprolol, as the stomach/indigestion problems were too much to handle.

    My neuro just put me on verapamil 3 days ago.  It's a calcium channel blocker, but is also used off label for migraine prevention.  It is also used to lower blood pressure.

    I was not happy to see that heartburn was listed as one of the side effects, but to my amazement, I have not had any heartburn for the past 3 days I've taken it (and I'm taking it 3 times a day), so that's good.  I also haven't noticed much improvement for my migraines yet, but I know that may take some time. 

    Apparently, beta blockers slow down digestion and that's why it was hurting my stomach so badly and in turn, causing heartburn.  Calcium channel blockers can cause heartburn by relaxing the sphincter muscle, but fortunately for me, this doesn't bother me like the slow digestion did from the beta blockers.

     

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    • Posted

      Hello janecat71...Beta blockers do not slow digestion...what they do slow is the heart. If the heart beats are lowered, the bp comes down. In all honesty, I've never heard of beta blockers causing heartburn.

       

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    • Posted

      Hi Mike,

      Actually, beta blockers do slow digestion, as they slow the heart.  Believe me, I sure did my research, trying to figure out why the heck my stomach hurt so badly.  It is a rather uncommon side effect, but one nonetheless. 

      I'm still keeping my fingers crossed that the verapamil will work for me.  These migraines are killing me.

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    • Posted

      Hello again, janecat71...I just read over your original post. It was Metropolol you were taking. I've read a lot of complaints on the forum about this medication. I tool that medication about 3 yrs ago. It gave me the worst headaches ever. In all honesty, I could set my watch by the time the headache hit me. I got my Dr. to take me off. 2 yrs ago, I was put on Atenolol 50mg/daily. I must say there's a huge difference between the two beta blockers. I never did get a headache from it. 

      A trusted Pharmacist told me the difference between the two is the fact that one is fat soluable, while the other is not. 

      I hope you start feeling better soon. There's nothing worse than feeling sick because of the medication, when the medication is supposed to help us.

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