Common brand names: Nitro-Bid Ointment, Nitrol
Why is nitroglycerin ointment prescribed?
Nitroglycerin ointment is absorbed through the skin
into the bloodstream. It affects the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart and
is used to prevent chest pain (angina pectoris). Nitroglycerin ointment is not
used to relieve chest pain during an attack because it takes 30 minutes to take
When should nitroglycerin ointment be used?
Nitroglycerin ointment usually is applied three or four times a day. Your
doctor may tell you to remove the ointment at a certain time each day. Follow
the instructions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your pharmacist
or doctor to explain any part that you do not understand. Contact your doctor if
you continue to have angina attacks. NEVER stop using nitroglycerin without
consulting your doctor. Stopping the drug abruptly may cause chest pain. Your
doctor probably will want to decrease your dose gradually.
How should it be used?
Nitroglycerin ointment comes with paper with a ruled line for measuring the
dose (in inches). Squeeze the ointment onto the paper, carefully measuring the
amount specified on your prescription label. Use the paper to spread the
ointment in a thin layer on a relatively hair-free area of skin (at least 2
inches by 3 inches) such as your chest. Do not rub in the ointment. Leave the
paper on top of the ointment and hold it in place with an elastic bandage,
hosiery or tape.
Wash your hands after applying the ointment; try not to get the ointment on
Ask your pharmacist any questions you may have about refilling your
What special instructions should I follow while using this drug?
Do not use this medication if you are taking sildenafil (Viagra).
Keep all appointments with your doctor and report any chest pain.
Nitroglycerin can lose its effectiveness over time. Contact your doctor if the
frequency, severity or duration of your angina worsens.
Follow your doctor's instructions to stop smoking, lose weight, rest and
avoid situations that cause angina (such as heavy meals, emotional upsets,
strenuous exercise and cold weather). Nitroglycerin can cause dizziness. Do not
drive a car or operate dangerous machinery until you know how this drug affects
Be sure that you always have enough of this medication on hand. Check your
supply before vacations, holidays and other occasions when you may be unable to
What should I do if I forget to apply a dose?
Apply the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if you remember a
missed dose near the time you are scheduled to apply the next dose, apply only
the scheduled dose. Do not apply a double dose.
What side effects can this drug cause? What can I do about them?
If headache persists, ask your doctor if you may take aspirin or
acetaminophen. Your nitroglycerin dose may need to be adjusted. Do not take
any medication for headache or change your dose without consulting your
- Skin irritation
Apply the ointment to a different skin area. Do not use cosmetics or
other skin care products on the treated areas. If irritation persists,
contact your doctor.
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, weakness, and faintness, especially while
standing still or when in a warm place
Lie or sit down. Getting up more slowly may help. Be careful to limit the
amount of alcohol you drink, and during exercise, hot weather or if standing
for a long time. Contact your doctor if these effects persist, if they are
severe, or if you faint.
- Upset stomach
Contact your doctor if this problem is severe or persists.
- Blurred vision, dry mouth, skin rash
Contact your doctor immediately.
- If you experience any other side effects that you think could be caused by
this medication and/or are of concern to you, cal your doctor.
What other precautions should I follow while using this drug?
Before using nitroglycerin ointment, tell your doctor:
- If you have ever had a bad reaction to nitrate medications (such as
Isordil, Imdur, Sorbitrate, Cardilate, Duotrate, Monoket, or Peritrate for
chest pain) or any other medications.
- What vitamins, herbals, dietary supplements, nonprescription
(over-the-counter) and other prescription medications you are taking, and
especially if you are taking sildenafil (Viagra); aspirin; high blood
pressure medications; beta blockers such as atenolol (Tenormin), carteolol (Cartrol),
labetalol (Normodyne, Trandate), metoprolol (Lopressor), nadolol (Corgard),
propranolol (Inderal), sotalol (Betapace), timolol (Blocadren); calcium
channel blockers such as amlodipine (Norvasc), diltiazem (Cardiazem),
felodipine (Plendil), isradipine (DynaCirc), nifedipine (Procardia) and
verapamil (Calan); dihydroergotamine (Migranal), anastrozole (Arimidex),
glatiramer (Copaxone); or niacin. (Also inform your pharmacist.)
- If you are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, become pregnant while
taking this medication or are breastfeeding
- If you have or have ever had low red blood cell counts (anemia), glaucoma,
low blood pressure, congestive heart failure, enlarged heart, kidney
disease, or recent head trauma.
Ask your doctor about the safe use of alcoholic beverages. Alcohol can worsen
the side effects of nitroglycerin ointment. In addition, tell your doctor or
dentist if you are having surgery including dental surgery. Never share your
medication with anyone.
What storage conditions are necessary for this drug?
- Keep this medication out of the reach of children and away from toothpaste
and other ointments and creams.
- Close the ointment tube tightly after each use.
- Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not
- Never take outdated medications. Some medication prescription labels list
an expiration date. If such a date is not on your medication label or if you
are unsure how old a medication is, call your pharmacy.
This handout summarizes information to help you understand
and safely take your medication. Other information--not included in this
handout--may be important for you to know because of your unique health status.
Ask your doctor and/or pharmacist for more information on the medications
prescribed for you and your unique health care needs.