|Type of medicine||Dopamine receptor stimulant|
|Used for||Disorders due to high prolactin levels (such as galactorrhoea and prolactinoma)
|Available as||Tablets and capsules|
Bromocriptine prevents the production of a chemical called prolactin. Prolactin is involved in many processes within the body, such as milk production after childbirth, and it affects the levels of the hormones involved with controlling the menstrual cycle and fertility. Bromocriptine is therefore helpful in preventing or reducing milk production when this is needed for medical reasons. Likewise, it is helpful in some types of infertility, breast problems and menstrual problems caused by higher than usual levels of prolactin.
High levels of prolactin also occur with prolactinomas. A prolactinoma is a benign tumour (non-cancerous swelling) in the pituitary gland. This can cause various symptoms including reduced fertility, breast changes, and headaches. Prolactinomas can be treated successfully with medicines such as bromocriptine. In these cases, treatment is usually long-term.
Bromocriptine is used to treat Parkinson's disease although other treatments are often preferred. The exact cause of Parkinson's disease is still unknown, but it results in there being less of a chemical called dopamine in the brain. This lack of dopamine causes symptoms such as shaking, muscle stiffness, and slow movement. Bromocriptine encourages the release of dopamine which helps to ease these symptoms. It may be used alone or in combination with other medicines for Parkinson's disease.
Bromocriptine also affects the production of growth hormone and has sometimes been used for the treatment of conditions such as acromegaly, although other treatments are often preferred. Acromegaly is a disorder which causes enlargement of the hands and feet, and makes facial features more prominent.
Before taking bromocriptine
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking bromocriptine it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:
- If you are under 15 years of age.
- If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
- If you have ever had problems with high blood pressure during pregnancy or after giving birth.
- If you have heart problems or blood vessel disease.
- If you have ever had a stomach ulcer.
- If you have liver problems.
- If you have Raynaud's syndrome (this is a circulation disorder).
- If you have ever had serious mental health problems, such as a psychotic disorder.
- If you have porphyria (this is a rare inherited blood disorder).
- If you are taking other medicines, including those available to buy without a prescription, herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to this medicine, to other medicines related to ergot, or to any other medicine.
How to take bromocriptine
- Before starting this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. The leaflet will give you more information about the specific brand of bromocriptine you have been given, and any possible side-effects from taking it.
- The dose you will need to take will depend upon the reason you are taking bromocriptine. Your doctor or pharmacist will tell you how much to take and when, and your dose will also be on the label of your pack. Read the directions from your doctor carefully and take bromocriptine exactly as you have been told. If you are taking bromocriptine for the first time, your doctor will give you a small dose and then gradually increase your dose over a few days. Slowly increasing your dose like this will help to reduce side-effects such as dizziness and low blood pressure, which can occur during the first few days of treatment.
- Try to take bromocriptine at the same times each day to avoid missing any doses. Swallow your dose with a small glass of water with a meal or just after some food.
- If you do forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember unless it is nearly time for your next dose, in which case leave out the missed dose. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor so your progress can be checked. Bromocriptine has occasionally caused lung problems, particularly in people who have taken it over a long period of time. In order for your doctor to check for this, you may need to have lung function tests, blood tests and an X-ray from time to time if you are taking bromocriptine long-term.
- If you are a woman (and taking bromocriptine for reasons other than trying for a baby) you may want to discuss suitable contraception with your doctor before taking bromocriptine. Hormonal forms of contraception (such as 'the pill') may not be suitable while you are taking bromocriptine.
- Occasionally, people taking bromocriptine have fallen asleep suddenly, with little or no warning of tiredness beforehand. Until you know how you react, take extra care when you drive or operate machinery. If you do find yourself falling asleep suddenly, you should see your doctor as soon as possible and avoid driving or using tools and machines in the meantime.
- If you drink alcohol, ask your doctor for advice about bromocriptine and alcohol. Alcohol may increase any feelings of drowsiness you experience with bromocriptine and is therefore not recommended.
- If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with bromocriptine.
Can bromocriptine cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.
|Common bromocriptine side-effects - these affect less than 1 in 10 people who take this medicine||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Feeling drowsy or sleepy||If this happens, do not drive or use tools or machines|
|Feeling dizzy or light-headed, especially when getting up from a sitting or lying position||Getting up more slowly should help. If you begin to feel dizzy, lie down so that you do not faint, then sit for a few moments before standing|
|Feeling sick||Stick to simple or bland foods - avoid rich and spicy foods|
|Constipation||Try to eat a well-balanced diet and drink plenty of water each day|
|Headache||If the headache is severe, speak with your doctor straightaway; otherwise ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller|
|Blocked or stuffy nose||If this becomes troublesome, speak with your doctor|
Important: if you experience any of the following uncommon but serious symptoms, contact your doctor for advice straightaway:
- Breathlessness or difficulties breathing, a persistent cough, chest pain, abdominal pain or tenderness.
- Any changes in your behaviour, such as an increased desire to gamble or an increased sex drive.
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store bromocriptine
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
Further reading & references
- British National Formulary; 62nd Edition (Sep 2011) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
- Manufacturer's PIL, Parlodel®; Manufacturer's PIL, Parlodel®, Meda Pharmaceuticals, electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated March 2011.
|Original Author: Helen Allen||Current Version: Helen Allen||Peer Reviewer: Dr Adrian Bonsall|
|Last Checked: 20/02/2012||Document ID: 3260 Version: 23||© EMIS|
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.