View Frightful (But Dead Serious) Drug Side Effects
Black Hairy Tongue
Although it may be unpleasant, black hairy tongue doesn't usually require medical treatment; it's temporary and harmless. Be sure to practice good oral hygiene and brush your tongue and teeth twice a day. Talk to your doctor to see if any of your medications may be the cause.
Cancer drugs cited to cause this effect include capecitabine (Xeloda), sunitinib (Sutent), sorafenib (Nexavar), pazopanib (Votrient) and vemurafenib (Zelboraf), although it can happen with others. If you develop hand-foot syndrome, talk to your doctor; there are ways to manage it and prevent it from worsening.
Osteonecrosis of the Jaw
Several drugs are linked with ONJ, including antiresorptive therapies that are ironically used to help prevent the loss of bone mass in diseases such as osteoporosis. Drugs such as alendronate (Fosamax), risedronate (Actonel and Atelvia), ibandronate (Boniva), and denosumab (Prolia) can lead to ONJ; however, ONJ may also occur without any identifiable risk factors. Most cases of ONJ happen after a dental extraction in patients taking these drugs.
Clinical studies have found dopamine agonist treatment in PD is associated with 2 to 3.5-fold risk of having an impulse control disorder (ICD) such as compulsive gambling, compulsive buying, compulsive sexual behaviors, or binge-eating disorder. Some case reports also suggest that ICD may occur with dopamine agonist treatment in patients with restless leg syndrome or fibromyalgia.
Amnesia and Memory Problems
Benzodiazepines (BZD) used for anxiety or sleep like triazolam (Halcion), statins used to help lower cholesterol like atorvastatin (Lipitor), and excessive alcohol use can all cause memory loss. Some medicines such as midazolam (Versed), also a BZD, are used to purposely induce sedation and memory loss of medical procedures. The amnesia or forgetfulness is usually short-lived and dissappears once the drug wears off; however, the events that occurred while the patient was under the effect are usually forgotten.
Nightmares or Night Terrors
However, Chantix studies have shown that after 12 weeks of use, 44% of users were able to quit smoking, so check with your doctor as you might be able to lower your dose to help with the dream side effect. And don't forget -- the serious side effects from smoking -- chronic lung disease, lung cancer and possible death - is permanent.
Dysgeusia (Abnormal Tastes)
Metronidazole (Flagyl) is used to treat bacterial infections, but a common side effect is a distinct metallic taste in the mouth that can make treatment intolerable. Taste changes can be frequent among senior patients who take multiple medications, as well.
Captopril for blood pressure control, the antibiotic clarithromycin (Biaxin), and multivitamins, especially those containing metals like calcium or iron, can cause a metallic taste, too. Certain chemotherapy and anesthesia medications can do this, also.
Bizarre Sleep-Related Behaviors
These behaviors may be due to alterations in brain neurotransmitters, but the exact cause is not fully known. Do not drink alcohol or take medicines that can make you drowsy, which can worsen these side effects. It is extremely important to follow dosing instructions for these medications, and be sure you have adequate time to devote to sleep before you must wake up.
Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue
According to the drug maker, the visual blue hue is due to a blockage of the PDE-6 enzyme present on the retinal photoreceptor. The blue vision is temporary; long-term side effects are unknown. Rarely, vision loss and double vision may also occur with higher doses of PDE-5 blockers in men with certain risk factors.
Unexpected Urine Color
Urine discoloration due to these medications is not a serious problem and will clear once the drug is out of the system. More seriously, pink or red urine can be caused by blood from conditions such as urinary tract infections, enlarged prostate, tumors or kidney stones. See your doctor about that one.
Tinnitus is a hearing sensation that is often described as a ringing in the ears. Hearing loss due to age or medication side effects can lead to tinnitus. Aspirin taken in high doses, certain diuretics (water pills) such as furosemide, and some antibiotics, like polymyxin B, erythromycin, vancomycin and neomycin, can all cause the side effect of tinnitus. Luckily, once the medication is stopped, the ringing usually goes away; however, contact your doctor before you abruptly discontinue any regularly-prescribed medication or antibiotic.
Can't You Smell That Smell?
Enalapril (Vasotec), a blood pressure medicine, has been rarely associated with anosmia. Other medications that have been linked with loss of smell include: amphetamines, estrogens, naphazoline eye drops, phenothiazines, long-term use of nasal decongestants, and possibly zinc-based products like Zicam. The loss of smell can sometimes be a symptom of a serious condition, but it isn't always serious itself. Nonetheless, you need to be able to smell to fully taste and enjoy foods.
Examples of drugs that may trigger a hallucination include amphetamines, estrogens, phenothiazines, and high dose decongestants. Illicit drugs that can lead to hallucinations include LSD, cocaine, crack, PCP, heroin and alcohol. Common hallucinations may include: crawling bugs, hearing sounds or voices, or seeing lights. Hallucinations may also occur with conditions such as schizophrenia or dementia.
Luckily, priapism is rare, but if a prolonged erection lasts for longer than 4 hours, seek emergency medical care immediately. Drugs that have been implicated in leading to priapism include the well-known erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs such as sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis) and vardenafil (Levitra); some antidepressants such as fluoxetine (Prozac), trazodone, and bupropion (Wellbutrin), and the antipsychotic agents risperidone (Risperdal) and olanzapine (Zyprexa).
Toxic levels of anti-seizure drugs such as phenytoin (Dilantin), phenobarbital and primidone (Mysoline) have been reported to cause vertigo. Antibacterial aminoglycoside drugs like gentamicin can be toxic directly to the ear and result in vertigo. Drugs to control high blood pressure such as the water pill furosemide (Lasix), the antimalarial agent mefloquine, and not surprisingly, excessive alcohol consumption have also been linked to vertigo.
Drugs that cause photosensitivity reactions - such as glipizide, amiodarone (Cordarone), diltiazem, tetracycline, doxycycline, ciprofloxacin, NSAIDs, or carbamazepine - may cause an increased skin sensitivity to sunlight or artificial light. The drug absorbs the UV light from the sun and leads to a skin reaction like a rash or blisters. Not everyone who takes an offending drug will develop a photosensitivity reaction, and it may take 1 or 2 days for the reaction to develop. Contact your doctor if you should develop a unusual skin reaction after taking any medicine.
Those Creepy Added Pounds
However, some common medications can also lead to weight gain - drugs used for mood disorders, depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, seizures and the anti-inflammatory corticosteroids can all add on unwanted pounds. Ask your doctor about this side effect. You may be able to switch to a different medication or use a lower dose if one of your meds put you at risk for weight gain. And remember, medications may affect patients differently, so not every patient will gain weight.
Drug Side Effects are Really No Laughing Matter
Ask questions, too. What are the most common or serious side effects you can expect to see? How often do they occur? Are there any rare side effects you should be aware of? Most importantly, do not stop taking any medication without first talking to your doctor -- they may be able to prescribe a lower dose or alternate drug. And many drugs need to be stopped slowly - an abrupt discontinuation may lead to even more scary side effects - just exactly what you were trying to get away from!
Finished: View Frightful (But Dead Serious) Drug Side Effects
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- American College of Rheumatology. Osteonecrosis of the Jaw (ONJ). Accessed 9/5/2016 at http://www.rheumatology.org/Practice/Clinical/Patients/Diseases_And_Conditions/Osteonecrosis_of_the_Jaw_(ONJ)/
- Vision Web. Viagra and Vision. Accessed 9/5/2016 at http://www.visionweb.com/content/consumers/dev_consumerarticles.jsp?RID=85
- Mayo Clinic. Diseases and Conditions. Black Hairy Tongue. Causes. Accessed 9/5/2016 at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/black-hairy-tongue/DS01134/DSECTION=causes
- Thompson DF, Kessler TL. Drug-Induced Black Hairy Tongue. Pharmacotherapy. 2010;30:585-93. Accessed 9/5/2016.
- Cancer.net. Hand-Foot Syndrome or Palmar-Plantar Erythrodysesthesia. Accessed 9/5/2016 at http://www.cancer.net/all-about-cancer/treating-cancer/managing-side-effects/hand-foot-syndrome-or-palmar-plantar-erythrodysesthesia
- Harmon K. Scientific American. Can You Lose Your Fingerprints? 5/29/2009. Accessed 9/5/2016 at http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=lose-your-fingerprints
- Mayo Clinic. Urine Color. Causes. Accessed 9/5/2016 at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/urine-color/DS01026/DSECTION=causes
- Vasotec. Product Labeling. Valient. Accessed 9/5/2016.
- MedLine Plus. Smell - Impaired. Accessed 9/5/2016 at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003052.htm
- Viagra. Product Labeling. Pfizer. Revised Jan 2010. Accessed 9/5/2016 at http://www.pfizer.com/files/products/uspi_viagra.pdf
- Mayo Clinic. Tinnitus. Causes. Accessed 9/5/2016 at http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tinnitus/symptoms-causes/dxc-20180362
- FDA. FDA Advises Consumers Not To Use Certain Zicam Cold Remedies Intranasal Zinc Product Linked to Loss of Sense of Smell. 6/16/2009. Accessed 9/5/2016 at http://www.fda.gov/Newsevents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm167065.htm
- MedLine Plus. Hallucinations. Updated 3/7/2012. Accessed 9/5/2016 at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003258.htm
- Family Practice Notebook. Vertigo Caused by Medication. Accessed 9/5/2016 at http://www.fpnotebook.com/ent/pharm/VrtgCsdByMdctn.htm