Alex Barker, PharmD
Alex Barker is the founder of The Happy PharmD, which helps pharmacists create an inspiring career, break free from the mundane "pill-flipping" life. He is a Full-time Pharmacist, Media Company founder, franchise owner, Business Coach, Speaker, and Author. He's also the Founder of Pharmacy School HQ, which helps students get into pharmacy school and become residents.
While medications can cure what ails your patients, they can also be associated with side effects.
Because every patient is different, how a particular body reacts to a medication can determine the severity of potential side effects, or whether there are any at all. The side effects associated with some prescription and OTC drugs can be uncomfortable and even disgusting.
The following are 10 gross potential side effects and the prescription drugs that may cause them.
Finasteride (Propecia), a powerful drug used to prevent hair loss, can cause men to develop enlarged breasts and sometimes nipple discharge. Luckily, surgery can reverse these effects, but they still may become permanent.
2. Discolored Urine
A number of drugs may cause a rainbow-like variety of urine colors.
- Metronidazole (Flagyl), furazolidone, and several other antibiotics can result in black urine.
- Phenolphthalein, a laxative, can result in purple urine.
- Amitriptyline hydrochloride (Elavil), an antidepressant, and methocarbamol (Robaxin), a muscle relaxant, can cause green urine.
- Triamterene (Dyrenium), a diuretic, can cause blue urine.
Orlistat (Xenical), which is sold OTC in a lower dosage as Alli, is a weight-loss drug designed to prevent the body from absorbing fat. According to WebMD, failure to adhere to a low-fat diet during treatment can result in “fatty/oily stool, oily spotting, intestinal gas with discharge, a feeling of needing to have a bowel movement right away, increased number of bowel movements, or poor bowel control.”
4. Nasal Problems
Fluticasone furoate (Veramyst), a nasal spray used to treat allergy symptoms, can cause nasal sores and nasal fungal infection. Fortunately, the risk for this is extremely low.
5. Discolored Stool
Isotretinoin (Accutane), which is used to treat acne, can cause all sorts of weird side effects. Among them are dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice, severe diarrhea, rectal bleeding, and black, bloody, or tarry stools.
6. Sun Sensitivity
Levofloxacin (Levaquin), an antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections, may cause a vampire-like inability to handle sun exposure. Patients who take Levaquin can develop phototoxicity, a skin problem so severe that it results in rapid, second-degree sunburns.
Patients taking Levaquin may also be more susceptible to torn ligaments or tendons.
7. Bad Breath
Stinky breath may result from steroid use.
8. Altered Taste Buds
The antibiotic clarithromycin (Biaxin) can cause food and beverages to taste “tinny” or metallic. While this side effect isn’t as disgusting as the others, it can remove joy from consuming favorite foods.
9. Yellow Teeth
Tetracycline antibiotics can cause teeth to become permanently yellow. If a pregnant woman takes a tetracycline, her baby’s teeth may be stained yellow.
10. Excessive Sweating
Painkillers such as celecoxib (Celebrex) and hydrocodone (Vicodin) and cardiovascular drugs such as amlodipine (Norvasc), bumetanide (Bumex), digoxin (Digitek), doxazosin mesylate (Cardura), and lisinopril (Zestril) may cause excessive sweating. Some antidepressants and hormonal drugs may also have this side effect.
Sometimes, a drug’s potential side effects outweigh its benefits. Pharmacists, prescribers, and patients should always work together to determine the acceptable level of risk and benefit and adjust medications and dosages as needed to achieve optimal results.