Beta blockers and asthma

Hi all

As I’ve mentioned in recent posts, I’m currently in the grips of a horrid MAV bout (about 2-3 months so far) and the last week has been hell on earth. Even my trusty clonazepam are less effective probably due to tolearance effects. Anyway, I take Dothiepin (dosulepin; prothiedin) 100mg omne nocte which doesn’t seem to make any difference. These were prescribed for panic disorder 10 years ago and my neurootologist reckoned no point in changing them to eg amitriptiline as they’re similar.

My point is, I’ve never tried any of the beta blockers, because I am officially asthmatic, although as an adult I only ever get severe attacks if exposed to animal fur. I occasionally get wheezy at the gym or in cold weather, but am not on any meds for it. My doctors have always been a bit reluctant to prescribe betablockers as they can worsen asthma, but I think maybe they’re over cautious and am wondering if it’s worth a try. Anyone here have asthma and take them, or any comments would be much appreeshed! Due to this effing illness I have just had to pull out of going to see Paul McCartney in concert this evening -gutted as was really lucky to get a ticket. Not a particular fan but you’ve gotta see a Beatle b4 u die (or they do!).

Digressing madly here due to addled brain. Main point: betablockers and asthma.

Down in the pits Dizzy Izzy

I’m so sorry. I can’t answer your question but i am just like you i have asthma too and all the doctors want to know if i have an inhaler which i do but unless there are forest fires or i am around an animal that i am allergic too - the dander - or maybe if i ran i don’t have asthma symptoms just horrible allergies. I have low blood pressure though so that’s why they can’t put me on beta blockers.

gosh i hope you feel better soon!



When I went to see the ent and he diagnosed migraine, he gave me propanolol without checking my medical history. (I’d told him I was asthmatic and used inhalers in an earlier appointment) The medication leaflet with the betablockers stated very clearly that you must not take them if you have Asthma. As i’m mildly asthmatic i went to my doctors before I tried the tablets. They immediately took away that prescription and gave me amitriptyline instead.

I only have very mild asthma caused occasionally by exercise, colds, cold weather and strangely also by orange squash drinks (the colouring to make it orange). In fact my inhalers normally go past their use by date before I use them all and I’ve only ever had one serious asthma attack brought on by a chest infection. My doctors know how mild my asthma is and that other medications that may affect asthma don’t normally affect my breathing. However they were still surprised the ent prescribed betablockers and they would not let me try them. Therefore I decided to try the amitriptyline they recommended instead. Not sure how helpful my answer is but just wanted to let you know I had similar questions a few months ago. Based on my doctors recommendations and all the warnings I read about betablockers and asthma when researching it on the Internet, i decided against taking the betablockers.

How’s the snow affecting you where you are? I’m in west London and we’ve had 5-10cm here! Not sure how I’m going to get to the theatre tomorrow and travel to Dorset on Monday as the trains are all affected!


Thanks for your replies. I still feel it’s worth the risk (for me). Perhaps some types of b-blockers are less of a problem. Need to ask an asthma specialist I suppose.

Snow here’s about 4", I’m just south of M25 and Macca’s on in west London so if trains are dodgy that’s another reason not to venture out! I’m sure I’ve been worse since all this snow thing started!

My symptoms are more head pressure and internal head spinning rather than rocking/external spinning.

Dizzy izzy xx


If you do try betablockers, I’d be interested to hear if it does affect the asthma. I’ve had a bad few months too as the Amitriptyline I was trying made my dizziness a lot worse at 35mg. I’m now back on 20mg and trying 8mg of serc 3x a day and this has brought my dizziness back almost to normal dizziness for me. I have 2 weeks off work now over christmas so I’m also hoping the rest will help. If that doesn’t work then I’ll see what else my doctor prescribes. maybe it’d be worth reconsidering the betablockers if you find they help you and don’t worsen the asthma.

Sorry to hear you’ll be missing the show because of the mav. At the moment travel into London is a nightmare because of the snow and they are predicting more snow overnight and tomorrow so it was probably a wise decision not to go. Looks like I’ll be missing the theatre tomorrow too if the trains don’t improve. :frowning: Probably not a good idea to attempt walking in this much snow when dizzy anyway.

I’ve always found that changes to weather affects me. Even before the mav I would get headaches when the weather changes suddenly in the day. Since the snow my dizziness has stayed the same but the number of headaches I get have increased.

Hope you feel better soon


Thanks Jennifer - I’ll let u know if they let me brave the b-blockers. Incidentally, it’s interesting to hear u say Serc helps. I’m in two minds about its usefulness. Originally when they thought I had menieres and I first tried it it seemed to work miraculously. Then when they diagnosed MAV I stopped taking it as they said it wouldn’t help. I got worse again. Took it again and got better for awhile but had another attack while on it and decided not to bother. Now I’m tempted to try it again. Since no one seems to have any idea if and why it works for menieres and no one really knows what causes menieres or MAV i guess theres no logical reason why it mightn’t work for some people’s MAV.

Also interesting about the effect of the weather. I’m now starting to suspect the scent of my Christmas tree is a trigger! Bah humbug!

Dizzy Izzy

Hi There,

I’m an asthmatic (very mild, don’t need preventer really and just the occasional ventolin - although sometimes I do preventer in winter as one of my triggers is sudden changes in temperature). I’ve been on beta blockers (metoprolol) for almost a year now and no probs at all with the asthma. My GP never mentioned it as an issue (may be because I’m a mild asthmatic?) although I did read the leaflet and saw it can be an issue. But I had had a long talk with GP re meds as I wanted the one with the smallest side effect profile as I’d gone nutso on the topamax which is why we settled on a beta blocker. I should also add however that for an asthmatic I have a very good lung capacity (13 years of clarinet) which might help - plus I’ve been exercising regularly so these things may also weight in my favour.

Of course this is just my experience but I have had no probs with metoprolol with regards to asthma. Metoprolol is a selective beta 1 blocker - maybe that’s the difference - propranolol is non-selective?


Thanks gabrielle - this is interesting. I shall look into it. I am also quite fit from aerobic exercise but would need to do a peak flow check. Have to ask has it helped the dizzies?


Hi Dizzyizzy,

I would say a combination of regular exercise, metoprolol 2 x day, and daily magnesium, B2 and feverfew has brought me from 30% to about 70% for much of the time. I do believe that the magnesium and B2 gave me the last 10-15%. Hasn’t really impacted on the tinnitus much, but has knocked the worst of the disequilibrium on the head, and I rarely get nausea now with it, and most days my “brain fog” is minor and I’m able to work as normal (part time, form home). Always a bit worse in the 7-10days at the end/beginning of my cycle but not much I can do about that.

Giving up caffeine and red wine has given me another 5% max I think - but not convinced (other than the red wine which I think is a trigger) - but on the caffeine front I was only ever having 1 coffee per day and no other caffeine sources in the diet. I can’t say I’m strictly following the migraine diet but do my best to avoid everything on the no-no list.
The first couple of months on the blockers were a bit testing as I did have fatigue (physoical) as a side effect (but managed that with some gym work, and it did go away). The main other side effect was weird dreams and nightmares on and off in the first month, but they went away. But it didn’t make any of my MAV symptoms worse.

So for the “good” 17 days of the month I’m at 75~80%, and on the “bad 10” I can be in the 50-60% range some months, in the 60-70% range others. Darn side better than being 30-40% all the time!

I take 50mg metoprolol am and pm - I was down at 25mg but 50mg gives me better symptom control, so I know that the metoprolol is having an impact independent of the other stuff I’m doing. Of course I would like to be at 90-100% but I’m reluctant to mess with a formula that’s given me most of my life back most of the time.


— Begin quote from “dizzyizzy”

Incidentally, it’s interesting to hear u say Serc helps.

— End quote

At the moment i can’t decide whether it’s was adding the serc that’s helped the really bad dizziness or reducing the amitriptyline back to 20mg. It was increasing the amitriptyline to 35mg that caused the dizziness to get worse in the first place so I suspect the improvement is more likely down to reducing the amitriptyline. I’m now at a more usual level of dizziness for me and I’m going to start 16mg of serc on Monday. I’ll let you know if I notice another improvement in the mav from increasing the serc which would indicate that it has helped along with reducing the amitriptyline back to 20mg

Gabrielle - thanks for letting us know that you’ve been able to take betablockers without it affecting your asthma. If it turns out the amitriptyline and serc doesn’t cause any further improvement to the mav, it’s useful to know that betablockers may be an option afterall. I may chat to my doctors about it if they decide I ought to try a different medication.


I have very mild asthma and a week of propanolol landed me in the hospital with an asthma attack. Just be careful.

The kid has asthma and is taking propranolol. His asthma used to be really severe – he was on a couple of different maintenance meds, and we had albuterol inhalers stashed everywhere. But we got rid of the carpet in his room, and replaced his polyester fill quilt with a wool-filled quilt, and a bunch of stuff like that, and his asthma has been under control ever since. He is not on any maintenance meds, and he uses an albuterol inhaler maybe once or twice a year.

He’s had no asthmatic symptoms at all since he started the propranolol.

In his case, the doctor has to work around meds he’s already on, and meds that we already know he can’t tolerate (benzodiasepines, SSRIs). So the choices are probably more limited with him than they might be with someone else.

We don’t know yet how well the propranolol is going to work. But so far, it’s not a problem as far as the asthma goes.


I was hoping to ask my doctor about the use of beta blockers after reading many comments about its effects on MAV. However, I have asthma also, I hope there is a way I could still try it. There’s no winning with this! So frustrated. I missed out on a few fun plans this summer because of MAV :frowning: ! Good luck with your meds hope they work.

I have mild asthma and am currently taking 10mg of nadolol. It was prescribed mainly for tachycardia issues, but we also thought it might help with my migraines/vertigo. I haven’t had any worsening of my asthma. I don’t take any preventive asthma medications and generally only need my inhaler when I have a severe allergic reaction (e.g. feathers/down) or am really sick with a cold.

One of the issues with the beta blockers is that, if you do have an asthma attack, your rescue inhaler may not work. Well, I got to try that out for the first time a week or so ago. My throat closed off due to a drug allergy (depakote). I was very relieved that my inhaler did seem to help my breathing.

10mg is a very low dose, so that may be why the inhaler was still able to work. It still makes me a bit nervous, but so far, so good.