Bad Side Effects of Atenolol

Updated February 21, 2017

Also known as Tenormin, Atenolol is a beta blocker that is used to treat high blood pressure, angina, heart attack,and cases of anxiety. Usually prescribed in 25-, 50- or 100-milligram tablets, Atenolol has fewer side effects than a number of other drugs given to treat these conditions. However, it is not free of side effects.

Common Side Effects

Although there are many different side effects reported when taking Atenolol, some are more common than others. Check with your doctor if you experience cold fingers and toes, diarrhoea, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, sleepiness or any other weakness. These symptoms are not usually, but can be, a sign of more serious side effects or interactions with the drug.

Allergic Reactions

As with any medication, serious allergic reactions have occurred in patients taking Atenolol. Seek medical attention immediately if you notice any swelling in the mouth, face, lips or tongue as this may constrict the airway. Also watch for hives, severe rash, chest pain or constriction in the chest and any shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. Allergic reactions are unusual in Atenolol but have been reported. You should not take Atenolol if you have had an allergic reaction to Atenolol before or have a history of slow heartbeats.

Mental Health Side Effects

Although Atenolol is often given to treat anxiety, it can cause other severe mental health side effects. If you suddenly start experiencing extreme mood swings, depression, difficulty sleeping or insomnia, become overly tired or begin to become even more anxious than before, contact your doctor immediately as these can be side effects of taking Atenolol and may require a re-evaluation of dosage or a change in medication.

Less Common Side Effects

Although these side effects rarely appear, they can be just as serious or more serious than the common ones. Find emergency medical help immediately if you experience fainting, dizziness or lightheadness, shortness of breath, sudden or unusual weight gain, swelling of hands, ankles and feet, unusual bruising or bleeding, unusually slow heartbeat, sudden decreased sexual ability or fingernails, toenails or palms that turn blue. All of these side effects can be signs of more serious side effects and problems and should not be ignored.


Before taking Atenolol, tell your doctor if you have a history of or have asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, diabetes, low blood pressure, any heart problems, slow heart rate, congestive heart failure, depression, liver disease, kidney disease, a thyroid disorder or problems with circulation. These conditions can cause serious side effects when taking Atenolol, and the drugs that are given for these conditions may interact poorly with the drug.

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About the Author

Sienna Condy began writing professionally in 2001 while attending the University of Cincinnati, and she's been at it ever since. Since graduating, she's written everything from marketing materials to articles on removing stains. Today, she enjoys writing about weddings, legal issues, science, health and parenting.