What are the side effects of nortriptyline?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

Side effects may include drowsiness, lethargy, fatigue, weakness, dry mouth, eye and vision problems, fever, problems urinating, constipation, and bowel problems. Nortriptyline can make it dangerous to drive or to operate machinery. Older people may be especially sensitive to side effects of nortriptyline.

The FDA recommends watching all people who take nortriptyline closely for suicidal thoughts or behavior, and for unusual behavior changes. They should be watched closely after starting therapy and when doses are changed. 

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You may not be able to take nortriptyline (name brands: Aventyl, Pamelor) and drive, which is a huge problem for many people. Side effects like sleepiness, light-headedness, shaky hands, and blurred vision can make you a danger behind the wheel. If you can solve the transportation issue and your physician agrees that nortriptyline is right for you (and you have no history of heart disease), it is better than smoking. Just don't drive or operate any heavy machinery until you know you can tolerate the drug without problems.

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