Nitroglycerin cream, also called nitroglycerin ointment, is a drug preparation usually applied on the skin. It mostly contains nitrate which can cause relaxation of the blood vessels, thus, allowing easy blood flow in the area. The most common uses of nitroglycerin cream include prevention of chest pain and healing of tears in the anus. Instructions for its use are often given by the physician, and patients are also encouraged to read the leaflet included with the ointment for additional information. This type of medicine is intended to be used outside the body only.
Angina, or commonly referred to as chest pain, is generally caused by coronary artery disease (CAD), a condition where blood vessels that supply blood to the heart become narrow. This often limits blood flow and oxygenation of the heart, and frequently leads to chest pain and increased workload for the organ. CAD is often a result of plaque build up inside the blood vessels due to unhealthy lifestyle practices. Nitroglycerin cream can frequently prevent angina, but it is not generally considered a cure for CAD.
Nitroglycerin cream is said to help in the healing of long-term fissures or tears in the anus. Anal fissures can be caused passing out hard stools, and other conditions like diarrhea and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), an inflammation of the intestines. These tears are often painful, especially during each bowel movement. Nitroglycerin cream often enhances the healing process by relaxing the muscles in the area.
Most nitroglycerin creams sold in the pharmacy come with an applicator that allows patients to measure the right amount of cream to be applied on the skin. Applying more cream than prescribed can usually increase the severity of side effects. Patients should be careful not to let the cream touch their finger as it can be absorbed by the skin and also increase drug dosage. Hands should be washed immediately after each use.
The most common side effects experienced by individuals using nitroglycerin cream for the treatment of either angina or anal fissures are headache and dizziness. Some patients may also experience low blood pressure due to use of nitroglycerin cream. Other serious side effects are breathing difficulty, slowed heart rate, and increased chest pain. Drug overdose can also happen, and symptoms to watch out for are vomiting, loss of consciousness, sweating, and confusion, among many others.