30 Weird Side Effects for Common Prescriptions
Usually, a doctor’s prescription—or even over-the-counter pain relievers—can solve most issues someone could be having. Unfortunately, medicine doesn’t always work properly; it can make things worse, or even cause wacky side effects.
You’re probably familiar with the basic side effects a lot of medicine can cause, such as nausea, dizziness, or even irritability. Sometimes they can cause you to get insanely hungry or not want to eat anything at all, while other medicines can make you fall asleep at the wheel. The possible side effects medicine can have get even scarier and include birth defects, organ damage, and death.
Luckily, the more serious side effects are usually rarer. We’ve put together a list of some of the weirder things that can happen when drugs don’t work like they’re supposed to. These range from turning your urine a funny color, losing your fingerprints, and even getting hiccups that can last for hours or days at a time. Some of these have more damaging side effects and others are just plain strange.
While medicine can have unintended consequences, it also has the potential to save lives. If you are having any health problems or unusual symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor. If you are concerned about your medication, speak to your doctor. Do not start or stop medication without speaking to a doctor first as this could have detrimental effects on your health.
Disclaimer: Alot Health is not affiliated with licensed medical professionals. This slideshow is not a replacement for medical advice. If you have questions or concerns, or if you plan on making lifestyle changes, consult a medical professional first.
Blisters and other types of mouth sores can pop up anywhere around or inside your mouth from several medications. You’ll see this symptom more with chemotherapy medicines, beta-blockers, and even the everyday pain reliever aspirin. Other pain relievers like ibuprofen and naproxen can have this effect as well.
An immunosuppressant drug called methotrexate has been known to cause oral ulcers. Still, for people who need treatment for autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, it may be necessary to deal with these effects if the benefits outweigh them. Nevertheless, be sure to talk to your doctor. Other drugs that can cause mouth blisters are amoxicillin and phenytoin.
Red, Painful Palms and Feet
Known as hand-foot syndrome, this symptom is happening a lot more with the new chemotherapy treatments. This syndrome gives makes the palms and soles of your feet red, swollen, and painful. It can even produce painful blisters. You may feel a tingling sensation or even sensitivity to touch. Walking and using your hands can be difficult if symptoms are severe enough.
Some cancer medications are known to cause hand-foot syndrome, such as fluorouracil, pazopanib, and sorafenib, among many others. If symptoms occur, its best to avoid applying heat as it can aggravate the condition. This includes taking hot baths and showers. You should also avoid applying pressure on the affected areas as well.
Shooting Pain, Numbness, and Tingling
Some heart and blood pressure medications, antibiotics, and chemotherapy drugs can cause nerve damage. This damage isn’t always reversible, and it usually starts in the hands and feet with numb, tingling sensations and shooting pain. Also called neuropathy, nerve damage can lead to muscle weakness and muscle loss.
Several types of medications may cause nerve damage. For instance, heart and blood pressure medications like amiodarone and hydralazine can cause nerve damage. Chemotherapy drugs like docetaxel and cisplatin, seizure medications like phenytoin, HIV medications like stavudine, as well as antibiotics like metronidazole, all have the possible side effect of neuropathy.
No one likes getting the hiccups, especially the kind that can last for days at a time. Hiccups are downright annoying and can be somewhat embarrassing when they are persistent. Chemotherapy is notorious for giving patients long-lasting hiccups. Most benzodiazepines can cause also hiccups, along with barbiturates, opiate pain relievers, and inhalers.
While having constant hiccups may not be ideal, having hiccups is relatively harmless. So the benefits of the medications you are taking are going to outweigh the risks in this regard. The side of effect of hiccups usually doesn't last much longer than a few hours, and in many cases, just minutes. However, in rare cases, it can last much, much longer.
You might already know that some medicines can change the color of your urine, but did you know it can turn blue? Some antidepressants and pain relievers have been known to turn your bowl blue, but some antibiotics and vitamins can also change the color of your urine—those just turn it pink, red, orange, or black.
Methylene blue and drugs containing it are the cause of blue urine. Most often, it is used to treat a urinary tract infection. Methylene blue is also used for certain medical tests as it can dye the tissues in the body for imaging purposes. It is usually used in combination with antibiotics for treating a UTI.
Not all side effects attack your body, some attack your mind. Alzheimer’s medications, blood pressure medicine, and steroids can cause horrible, vivid nightmares. Most of those medications treat issues in the brain or with hormone levels, but if you’re having terrible nightmares it could be a side effect of your medication.
Dopamine agonists often cause nightmares or even vivid dreams. Beta-blockers like labetalol and propranolol have been known to produce this side effect as well. Donepezil, a dementia medication, and antidepressants like venlafaxine can cause nightmares that may be persistent. If they are affecting your quality of life, you may want to speak to your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
Nails Falling Off
This side effect sounds like something right out of a horror movie. Medically known as onycholysis, this is when your nails painfully separate from the nail bed and fall off, which can cause infection. The medications most commonly responsible for this are acne medications, antibiotics, birth control pills, and chemotherapy treatments.
Antipsychotics are the most common medications that cause this, although anti-nausea medications have been known to cause it, too. Onycholysis can lead to infection since the nails act as a protective barrier of the finger. One of the most common antibiotics that causes this problem is tetracycline, a medication used to treat acne.
You’ve heard of sleepwalking, now get ready for sleep eating. Ambien, a sleep aid, is the worst offender for making its users get up in the middle of the night and walk around, drive, or even cook and eat a whole meal without remembering it the next morning.
Sleeping pills may often cause sleep eating and sleepwalking. With sleep eating it can be difficult to maintain a normal weight since you essentially have little control over it. Those who are already overweight may be more susceptible to it. Additionally, if you have depression or anxiety, you may be more likely to sleep eat.
Wanting to Crawl Out of Your Skin
Also known as akathisia, this side effect is characterized by a deeply unsettling feeling that you have to be constantly moving. You get really uncomfortable and feel like ripping off your skin, which is terrible to think about. Akathisia has also been described as restlessness, and there is usually a solution to it other than quitting your medication entirely.
Akathisia is often experienced by those taking antipsychotic medications. Those on medications like ziprasidone or aripiprazole may suffer from akathisia when doses are too high. This may be fixed by lowering the dosage. Other medications that cause this side effect are anti-nausea medications like metoclopramide. Talk to your doctor if you experience these symptoms.
Hallucinations aren’t just for people taking recreational drugs; pharmaceuticals can also trigger the surreal experience. These can be mild to intense and some people can even hear and smell things that aren’t there. Some sleep aids and antidepressants have been known to cause these weird hallucinations.
Loss of Smell
This unfortunate symptom is also known as anosmia. You might not think losing your sense of smell would be that big of a deal, but patients with this side effect often have problems eating. The common culprits for causing this are nasal decongestants, antipsychotics, antibiotics, and blood pressure medications.
Loss of smell can be permanent or temporary, depending on the individual and the medication used. Blood pressure medications known to have caused this side effect are enalapril and amlodipine. Common antibiotics that cause anosmia are azithromycin and amoxicillin. Some cholesterol medications have also had this effect.
Hair Growing Everywhere
We’re used to seeing hair loss with medical treatments, but have you ever experienced unexpected hair growth? Steroids and a medicine used to treat endometriosis are known to cause hair to grow in strange places all over the body. This side effect happens more often with women than with men.
At least it's a little more concerning for women. Anabolic steroids and glucocorticoids are often culprits when it comes to this side effect. Hormone therapy drugs with testosterone and corticotrophin will also cause hair growth, also known as hirsutism.
Remember hand-foot syndrome from earlier? Another side effect from cancer treatments is an extreme version of the syndrome in which your fingerprints go away. This can cause issues while traveling, obviously, but can also be painful. Luckily, the skin usually grows back.
Disappearing fingerprints are often caused by the cancer treatment capecitabine. But hey, at least you can go on a crime spree and reduce your chances of getting caught.
We kid, of course! Don't commit any felonies. or at the very least, don't tell anyone that we told you too. Because we didn't and we aren't...
Most of the medicines on this list aren’t everyday household medicine cabinet items. However, even the common anti-inflammatory ibuprofen can cause serious damage. Other than stomach ulcers and a reduced life span, ibuprofen can cause fatal third-degree burns all over the body.
While the side effects are not actually third-degree burns, they can lead to symptoms that resemble third-degree burns. Stevens Johnsons Syndrome causes blistering all over the body as it is and when ibuprofen use is continued, it induces toxic epidermal necrolysis, which causes third-degree burns and can be fatal.
Would you have expected a medicine could be able to make your gums itch? So many medications can do this, including antihistamines, antidepressants, inhalers, pain medication, seizure medication, and more. This happens because your mouth gets dry and inflamed, causing uncomfortable irritation.
Dry mouth occurs when your mouth isn't producing enough saliva which can cause itching, but itching may also occur due to an allergic reaction to certain medications. Talk to your doctor about this side effect to determine the most likely cause. This side effect may ease over time.
Just like ibuprofen, even the common aspirin pill can cause issues. It’s often prescribed as a blood thinner, which leads to your body showing bruises a lot easier. Every time you bump into a chair or hit your hand on the counter, there will be a bruise waiting for you.
Aspirin causes bruising since it blocks your body's ability to clot, and because of this, bleeding occurs more easily. getting cut while taking aspirin can cause you to bleed more profusely, and, depending on the circumstances, can take you up to a half hour to stop bleeding.
Yellow Skin and Eyes
No, medicine won’t give you yellow fever, but it can still turn your eyes and skin yellow. This is extremely rare, but a few patients have reported the yellowing after taking penicillin. Penicillin can also give you a rash, a “hairy” tongue, and hives. This occurs in individuals who are hypersensitive to penicillin.
Penicillin can produce these symptoms of jaundice and can even accompany liver damage in severe cases. Fortunately, the side effect is rare and only occurs in less than 1% of patients. The black hairy tongue produced by penicillin is due to the changing balance of healthy bacteria in your tongue.
Loss of Impulse Control
One of the scariest things would be to turn into a different, meaner person without being able to control it. Some medicines such as restless leg treatments, a Parkinson’s medication, and antidepressants can lower your inhibitions and even give you intense urges for gambling or sex. Ropinirole, a medication commonly prescribed for restless leg syndrome and Parkinson’s disease, has been known to increase the desire to engage in compulsive behavior, often involving sex and gambling – or both.
While this might sound like a great time if you are in Vegas, ultimately it can interfere with your well-being. You should contact your doctor if you experience increased sexual urges or the desire to gamble. Other drugs that have been known to cause this are aripiprazole and Sinemet.
Some migraine and anti-inflammatory drugs can have surprising side effects you didn’t see coming. They can cause you to go red-green color blind, which is something you might not even notice. The same medicine that causes color blindness can also turn your lips and nails a shade of blue.
Some drugs produce dry mouth, tremors, or trouble focusing. Some patients who take migraine drugs may develop a rash or have trouble breathing. Before starting treatment, discuss side effects with a healthcare provider. In order to lessen any side effects, read the dose instructions before wearing a red shirt to a funeral or using ketchup as a sunscreen.
You Can Lose Height
Getting shorter has got to be one of the strangest adverse effects that can occur. Prednisone is a common prescription that is used to treat a broad number of conditions, including gout, asthma, arthritis, and many other conditions; however, taking this medication might potentially cause you to lose a few inches of height.
Prednisone results in upset stomach, increased hunger, weight gain, and changes in attitude or behavior. It results in infection, fluid retention, and increased blood pressure. Diabetes, cataracts, and osteoporosis can all be brought on by taking prednisone. Talk to your doctor about side effects prior to beginning prednisone!
Throwing Up Coffee Grounds
Ibuprofen might make your aches and fevers go away for a time, but the side effects can turn downright unpleasant in a lot of ways. In addition to causing third-degree burns and heart problems, ibuprofen can cause stomach ulcers, including a rare stomach ulcer with a very strange side effect.
The rare stomach ulcer occurs in the upper GI tract that includes the esophagus, stomach and the first portion of your small intestine. When an ulcer occurs here, it can produce coffee ground emesis, in other words causing you to vomit what looks like coffee grounds. Its appearance comes from coagulated blood in your vomit and if you have this, you should see a doctor right away.
Priapism is a side effect you may have heard of if you’ve ever seen a commercial for Viagra, aka sildenafil – you know, that Blue pill for ED. It’s the side effect that causes a painful, prolonged erection in men that can last four hours or more. But what you may not be aware of is that it’s a side effect that goes beyond just one medication.
Antidepressants like trazodone and bupropion can cause priapism, as well as antipsychotics like clozapine. In addition to mental health medications, the blood thinner warfarin has been known to cause this rare side effect as well. Even ADHD medications like methylphenidate have caused it. It is important to seek emergency treatment if it occurs as a prolonged erection may lead to permanent damage and the need for amputation.
Blue Lips and Fingernails
Naproxen, a medication commonly prescribed for migraines, has a very interesting and somewhat disturbing side effect that can cause your lips or fingernails to turn blue in some cases. While this won’t happen to everyone, it can be alarming unless you don’t mind looking like you are dead.
If you want to look like you just drowned, you may not be bothered by this potential side effect of naproxen. Commonly your lips will turn blue if you have a shortage of oxygen in the blood, a pathological condition referred to as cyanosis.
The flu shot commonly has some side effects, mostly feeling flu-like the next day or even experiencing some arm pain. However, in some cases, you can have more unpleasant side effects as a result of a severe allergic reaction to the shot, including hives, for which case, you should seek immediate medical treatment.
This is not to say that you should avoid the flu shot if you are concerned about hives. Medical experts recommend the flu shot, even if you have had an allergic reaction before. A reaction to just one shot does not mean you will have a reaction to every shot because the ingredients in every flu shot is different each year.
Indigestion, the discomfort in your upper abdomen, is a symptom commonly associated with eating or drinking too much. It can also occur from eating certain types of foods or can be a symptom of a larger problem. Strangely, food and even oral medications aren’t the only things that cause indigestion.
Although the cause is not quite known from a physiological perspective, a prescription eyedrop called Travoprost has been linked to indigestion problems. Travapost is commonly prescribed for eye itchiness and conditions like pinkeye. So who would think it would cause stomach problems?
Ofloxacin is a medication usually prescribed for ear infections, particularly swimmer’s ear – a condition that occurs when water remains in the ear after swimming. And because it’s prescribed for a condition that affects the ear, you wouldn’t expect it to cause any trouble downtown, and yet it does.
Ofloxacin has been known to cause genital itching that can be downright unpleasant and pretty embarrassing too. In women, it can also cause vaginal itching. Itching can occur elsewhere on the body and there are also side effects such as lightheadedness and nausea.
Ofloxacin can also cause confusion in some patients. The ear infection medication can lead to mental anguish in a variety of ways. So, while you may be clearing up your ear of bacteria and getting healthy again, you may not be all there mentally.
Ofloxacin has been known to cause temporary confusion about the time and where exactly you are. It can also cause you to lose a sense of your own identity. More frighteningly, it has caused confusion in terms of understanding and using human language, showing the medication can have a significant effect on the brain.
Get your head out of the gutter because we are talking about hydration here. Fluoxetine, also known as Prozac, may produce one side effect that even doctors can’t quite explain, an unquenchable thirst, giving you the urge to drink a ton of water. While this might motivate you to drink water, it’s not ideal mentally to always be thirsty.
This can be a normal side effect, particularly when you start the medication or other antidepressants like it. These effects will usually go away after the first few weeks of taking it, but they can persist. Ultimately, it will be up to you to decide whether the benefits outweigh the risks.
There are a lot of different allergy medications out there. Still, you may want to stay clear of one called cetirizine, aka Zyrtec, as many patients have reported difficulty urinating while taking the medication. The antihistamine can cause weakened bladder contractions, making it harder to pee.
However, cetirizine is far from the only antihistamine that can cause this problem. Other common medications include Benadryl, Claritin, and Allegra. You may notice a weak stream while urinating or feel like you have not expelled all of the urine in your body. It can also be difficult to begin urinating.
Weird Taste in Mouth
Having a weird taste in your mouth just happens from time to time, but sometimes there is an underlying cause, and sometimes that can be a medication you are using. Several different kinds of medications have been known to cause a weird taste in the mouth and even affect your ability to smell, as mentioned earlier.
Antibiotics such as penicillin are one such cause, but there are also neurological medications for treating migraines and ADHD that can cause this side effect. Antidepressants like sertraline can cause a weird taste in the mouth as well. On top of this, certain heart and thyroid medications have been known to cause this effect.