10 – Most unusual drug side effects and how to handle them?

You take an antihistamine to treat your sudden allergic condition and you feel sleepy all the day. If you have sleep disorders, it may be good but if you have to drive long to reach your workplace, it may be disastrous.

Drug side effects like drowsiness, nausea and vomiting, stomach upset and headache are very common. Honestly speaking, there is hardly any medication that does not yield side effects. An estimated 4.5 million Americans visit doctor’s office or emergency room annually owing to such problems with medication.

Some people may experience severe side effects while others may not. Even certain side effects revealed during FDA drug trials are deemed acceptable after considering possible life risks. But there are some unusual side effects as well like blue colored urine, short term memory loss, and loss of smell or falling asleep all of a sudden that may leave you perplexed. Let us study a few of them.

10 unusual drug side effects:

1.     Temporary memory loss or Amnesia:


This is an unusual drug side effect when people suffer from temporary memory loss. Drugs like Mirapex prescribed for Parkinson’s disease and restless leg syndrome or statins used for lowering cholesterols cause partial amnesia. Going off Mirapex may reduce the problem.  Statins often function too much in blocking the cholesterol production necessary for certain neurological functions.

2.     Excruciating pain and numbness:

This is one of the medication problems caused by high blood pressure drugs like amiodarone, antibiotics like ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin and cisplatin (prescribed for chemotherapy). Nerve damage is a significant drug side effect which is not always reversible even after discontinuing the drugs. The pain and numbness initiate in the hand and feet gradually spreading to other parts of the body.

3.     Hallucinations:

HallucinationsThis is one of the scariest drug side effects that include visual, olfactory, tactile and general somatic hallucinations. Although hallucination is most common in schizophrenic patients but certain medications on prescription may be the cause of this problem.

Hallucinations mainly result from psychotic medications like olanzapine, quetiapine, haloperidol, zolpidem, clonazepam etc. Certain sulfa drugs and antibiotics are also associated with causing hallucinations.

4.     Discoloration of urine:

It is quite usual to observe a change in urine color to pink or bright yellow due to the intake of certain vitamins or antibiotics.  But the antidepressant Elavil or the painkiller Indocin can make your urine blue or green. Even the antibiotic metronidazole can blacken your urine.

5.     Loss of smell and taste:

Loss of smell and tasteThe drug Vasotec meant for treating high blood pressure and congestive heart failure can lead to loss of smell and taste. In fact, it can affect nearly all the senses. You may experience ringing of ears or tinnitus or blurred vision and dry eyes. All these drug side effects may seem to be minor but if all these happen at a time, it may turn out to be a major problem with medication.

6.     Weaving weird dreams:

Another example of unusual drug side effect comes with Chantix, the drug prescribed to quit smoking. People taking this drug on prescription are known to experience vivid strange and weird dreams.

The side effect caused by the drug Zolpidem prescribed for sleeping is even stranger. People taking this drug often wake up at night, go for a drive, have a phone chat and sex but cannot recall these events the next morning.

7.     Painful and persistent erection:

Another scariest side effect caused by a host of drugs namely trazodone, clozapine, hydroxyzine, chlorpromazine, minipress, warfarin, Prozac, Zoloft etc. This condition not caused by sexual stimulation or arousal is medically termed as Priapism. It can last for hours and if left untreated can cause permanent tissue damage leading to erectile dysfunction.

8.     Inability to distinguish between colors:

Viagra, the popular drug to treat erectile dysfunction can cause strange changes in your vision. People taking these often report not only of blurred vision but also seeing objects colored blue and inability to distinguish between blue and green color.

The researchers at the University of Minnesota have established that Vigara can even cause permanent vision loss, the most undesirable drug side effect one can think of.

9.     Unusual sexual urge and getting into gambling:

Although it may sound weird, these are the most common side effects of certain medications. The notable culprits are Requip prescribed for restless leg syndrome, Abilify for depression that may cause irresistible urge for sex, gambling and binge eating. Carbidopa/levodopa is also known to cause intense urge to have sex and gamble.

10.     Falling of nails:

One of the creepy side effects of drugs is onycholysis in which the nails get separated from the nail bed. Apparently, it may not seem that bad but patients experiencing this go through an awful time owing to pain and infections caused by this.

Common culprits are tetracycline (an acne drug), antibiotics like levofloxacin and ciprofloxacin, chemotherapy drugs and oral contraceptives.

Handling drug side effects:

physician Your vulnerability to side effects of drugs depends upon a multitude of factors of which age and dosage are most important. The very young and old are always at the higher risk of experiencing side effects of medications.

Your physician will be the best person to identify those factors and prescribe the required drugs minimizing the risks of side effects. Never fail to inform your doctor about your allergic tendencies or any previous side effect related event before he prescribes any medication.

In case of any side effects:

  • Report to the doctor immediately.
  • Stop taking that particular medicine if you are sure enough that it is causing side effects.
  • Seek emergency help if needed.
  • Talk to your doctor regarding switching of medicine. Never choose an alternative medicine yourself.

Easy side effect management strategies that you can take at home:

  • People on blood thinners are at a higher risk of bleeding. In case of any heavy bleeding, put gauze on the wounded area and press it for 10 minutes. See a doctor if the bleeding does not stop.
  • Dehydration is another common side effect. Drink plenty of fluids. Have fruits with high water content. Keep your skin moisturized.
  • If you are experiencing loose stools, you may have to reduce the dosage of the drug. Maintain a steady electrolyte intake to prevent dehydration.
  • Drowsiness is a well-known side effect of medications. Avoid driving or operating heavy machinery or perform hazardous task. Stop drinking.
  • To treat dry mouth, take fluids at frequent intervals. Eat food with low sugar and low acid content. Avoid mouthwashes containing alcohol.
  • If you are facing sexual dysfunction, have more libido-boosting foods. Stop taking recreational drugs and alcohol.
  • To treat a drug-related headache, you may try acetaminophen and paracetamol. Apply heat or massage therapy. Drink plenty of fluids.

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