|Type of medicine||Dopamine receptor stimulant|
|Used for||To prevent lactation and disorders due to high prolactin levels
|Also called||Dostinex® (for high prolactin levels)
Cabaser® (for Parkinson's disease)
Cabergoline 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. Cabergoline 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 cabergoline. In these cases, treatment is usually long-term.
Cabergoline 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. Cabergoline 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.
There are different brands and strengths of cabergoline tablets. Each time you collect a new prescription, make sure you have been given the same brand as before.
Before taking cabergoline
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 cabergoline it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you are under 16 years of age.
- If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
- If you have 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 been told you have had fibrotic reactions (scar tissue) affecting your heart, lungs or abdomen.
- 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 cabergoline
- 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 cabergoline 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 cabergoline. You may be asked to take cabergoline just for a few days if it is to stop breast milk, or each day if you have Parkinson's disease; or, if you are taking cabergoline to reduce high prolactin levels, you may only need one dose a week. Your doctor or pharmacist will tell you how much to take, and your dose will also be on the label of your pack. Read the directions from your doctor carefully so that you know which dose is right for you, and take cabergoline exactly as you have been told. If you are taking cabergoline for the first time, your doctor may give you a small dose and then gradually increase your dose. 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.
- Swallow the tablets with a small glass of water, with a meal or just after some food. Taking cabergoline after food helps to reduce the side-effects.
- Try to avoid missing any doses.
- 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. Cabergoline has occasionally caused heart and 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 an echocardiography (ECG), lung function tests, blood tests, and an X-ray from time to time.
- You should not become pregnant while you are taking cabergoline. Discuss with your doctor which methods of contraception are suitable for you. If you think you may be pregnant, stop taking cabergoline and see your doctor as soon as possible.
- Occasionally, people taking cabergoline have fallen asleep suddenly with little or no warning of feeling tired 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 cabergoline and alcohol. Alcohol may increase any feelings of drowsiness you experience with cabergoline and is therefore not recommended.
- If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with cabergoline.
Can cabergoline 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 cabergoline 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|
|Dizziness, 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|
|Headache||If the headache is severe, speak with your doctor straight away; otherwise, ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller|
|Feeling or being sick, indigestion||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|
|Depression, disturbed sleep, hot flushes, breast pain||If any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor|
Important: if you experience any of the following uncommon but serious symptoms, contact your doctor for advice straight away:
- Breathlessness or any 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 cabergoline
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Keep these tablets in their original container - it is specially designed to protect them from the moisture in the air.
- 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, Cabaser® 1 mg and 2 mg Tablets; Manufacturer's PIL, Cabaser® 1 mg and 2 mg Tablets, Pharmacia Limited, electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated August 2010.
- Manufacturer's PIL, Dostinex® Tablets; Manufacturer's PIL, Dostinex® Tablets, Pharmacia Limited, electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated November 2010.
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.
Prof Cathy Jackson