Most people avoid taking medication when they can, but sometimes this is unavoidable. As drugs can have serious side effects, it’s essential to do your research before taking anything new. Here are five medications with adverse side effects that might surprise you.
Clonidine is a medication used primarily for treating high blood pressure, but it can also be used in combination with other medicines to treat ADHD. In some cases, it is also used to treat Tourette’s, hot flashes in menopausal women, and alcohol and opiate withdrawal.
In addition to the many side effects of clonidine, it can become addictive in and of itself. Though typically prescribed to be taken once per week, addiction is a severe risk if taken for too long. If you have any of the above conditions, ask your doctor about the risk of addiction and alternatives.
Ibuprofen, commonly known as Advil in the United States, is a common, over-the-counter painkiller that most people have taken at one point in their lives. What you may not know, however, is that it’s pretty risky to take over time. Suppose you take ibuprofen or any other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) for an extended period or at incorrect dosages. In that case, you have an increased risk of:
- Heart attack and stroke
- Blood clots
- Kidney failure
- Stomach ulcers
- Liver failure
These side effects are rare and aren’t a reason to stop using ibuprofen, but make sure you aren’t mixing the drug with alcohol or taking more than the recommended dose.
Though there isn’t conclusive scientific evidence for the medicinal benefits of the echinacea plant, it is frequently used to treat colds, anxiety, influenza, migraines, and rheumatoid arthritis. It is likely safe when taking orally for less than two weeks, but anything longer than this may cause side effects, including:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sore throat
Echinacea shouldn’t be taken with any other drugs, as it can prevent your body from breaking down medication quickly. If the medicine doesn’t break down and pass through your system as soon as it should, you could experience side effects.
St John’s Wort
Another natural medication known as St John’s Wort is often taken to treat depression and anxiety. Usually, when people hear that medication is ‘natural,’ they assume it is safe. This is not the case; natural supplements can have just as many side effects as traditional pharmaceuticals – if not more.
St John’s Wort interacts with many different types of medications, including birth control. Though safe for breastfeeding, it’s not recommended for a healthy pregnancy, as there is some evidence that it may cause congenital disabilities. It also increases your skin’s susceptibility to the sun, which increases your risk of skin cancer.
If you’re set on taking this medication, make sure you talk about it extensively with your doctor first.
It’ll likely come as no surprise that opioids are highly addictive. Physicians prescribe opioids for patients dealing with acute or chronic pain. If you’re struggling with pain, try NSAIDs, acetaminophen (Tylenol), and tricyclic antidepressants combined with acetaminophen. Treatments such as acupuncture can also be used to treat pain.
While the above medications have associated risks, sometimes, the benefits of taking these medications outweigh the risks. Always talk to your doctor before taking any medication, as they have enough knowledge about your health history to provide you with the proper recommendations.
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