Does your morning routine include popping a prescription med? If so, you’ve got company. The Jama Network reported that nearly 60% of U.S. adults were on an Rx med in 2012. The Network also found 15% of adults took over five prescription drugs. This is especially true for adults over 50, AARP notes.
The most common Rx meds treat high cholesterol, depression, and high blood pressure. If you take one of these prescriptions, you expect them to be helpful, not harmful. Unfortunately, that’s not always true. Watch out for these 19 dangerous Rx meds that can seriously hurt your body.
Used for: anxiety and panic disorders
Klonopin has made some unfavorable headlines because it’s often abused. Like Xanax, it can be addictive, so it’s possible to develop cravings and experience withdrawal symptoms if not taken as prescribed. Overuse aside, Drugs.com says it’s still possible to experience lack of muscle control, memory problems, trouble speaking, or a general “ill” feeling. It’s rare, but it’s also possible to have severe mental changes, such as feeling like you’re having an out-of-body experience.
Next: Many Americans with Type 2 diabetes are on this drug.
Used for: controlling blood sugar levels
Those who have Type 2 diabetes need to monitor their blood sugar. Avandia is often prescribed to diabetics to help out with this, which is great news. However, Everyday Health notes Avandia comes with a black box warning indicating it can cause or worsen congestive heart failure. Because of this, it’s super important to tell your doctor if you’ve had a stroke or are at risk of heart disease before going on this med.
Even if you’re not concerned about Avandia affecting your heart, you could also experience vision changes or jaundice while taking it. You’ve been warned.
Next: Who knew sleep aids could be deadly?
Used for: treating insomnia
Many sleepless nights call for a prescription-strength sleep aid like Ambien. While this med will help you get the shut-eye you want, it’s not all good. You might experience severe drowsiness, lightheartedness, and a loss of coordination, Drugs.com notes. Lesser-known side effects include a stuffy nose, muscle pains, and constipation. Before you take Ambien, you must tell your doctor if you’re taking any other medications, especially muscle relaxers or antidepressants. The combination can slow your breathing to a life-threatening degree.
Also, some people using Ambien have engaged in activities like driving a car, making a phone call, or having sex but later have no memory of the activity.
Next: Yes, this anti-anxiety medication is as dangerous as you’ve heard.
Used for: anxiety
Anxiety can be seriously debilitating when left untreated. Thankfully, Xanax is ideal for many people with this chronic condition. You’ve likely heard of some side effects caused by this anti-anxiety Rx med, such as a lack of energy. But WebMD notes you could also develop involuntary muscle movements, trouble breathing, or even liver failure. There’s also the threat of addiction; Xanax is one of the most addictive meds of its kind. Overdosing often leads to death.
Next: This blood thinner comes with a wealth of possible negative side effects.
Used for: preventing blood clots
Like Plavix, Brilinta is another blood-thinning option for those at risk of a heart attack or stroke. And WebMD even cites a study showing Brilinta might work better than Plavix for some. Here’s the trouble: Just like Plavix, this med comes with the risk of severe or uncontrollable bleeding. Coughing up blood or having blood in the urine is possible, which can be really alarming. And you can have a slowed heartbeat or shortness of breath, too.
Next: Many men take this drug, but they still need to be careful.
Used for: erectile dysfunction
Approximately 1.7 million people have prescriptions for sildenafil (commonly sold as Viagra). It makes sense; 40% of 40-year-old men have some form of erectile dysfunction, and Viagra can help. Most people experience the pleasure of this medication, but it can have extreme side effects.
You could experience a heart attack or stroke if you combine Viagra with nitrate drugs taken for heart problems or chest pain. Other scary side effects include temporary vision loss, bleeding of the eyes, and double vision. There’s also the possibility you could experience a painful erection lasting more than four hours (Go to the doctor!).
Next: Don’t sleep on this prescription drug.
Used for: quitting smoking
This prescription drug can help you make the life-changing commitment to quit smoking, adding years to your life. However, it can also give you vivid nightmares and suicidal thoughts as it blocks receptors throughout your nervous system. A study by the University of Ottawa found that 60% of people taking the med had sleep complaints, and 7% of people experienced psychiatric disturbances like suicidal thoughts. The tricky thing about Chantix, however, is that people who quit smoking also show symptoms of withdrawal, so it’s hard to distinguish between all the effects.
Next: Don’t exercise on this drug.
Used for: fighting infection
Also known as fluoroquinolone, Cipro treats infections ranging from pneumonia to sinus infections. This antibiotic fights bacteria by “blocking DNA replication,” according to Men’s Health. But it can also prevent DNA repair within tendons, which weakens connective tissues and causes tearing and rupturing if you exercise. Few people experience this side effect, but those who do experience the terrible pain of rupturing a tendon as they run or lift weights.
Next: You may feel like you’re bleeding from your eyes.
Used for: treating infections
If you’re fighting an infection like tuberculosis you may take Rifadin, which fights bacteria and stops it from spreading in your body. The crazy part? You might start sweating, crying, or urinating purple. As Rifadin breaks down in your body, it forms a byproduct that can stain your bodily fluids. It’s not dangerous — and only occurs for about half of those taking the drug — but it’s pretty freaky to sweat, cry, or pee purple. This side effect will end when you stop taking the drug.
Next: A common but painful problem
Used for: treating excessive stomach acid
Nothing ruins the burger you had for lunch like heartburn. If you deal with excess acid production, then you’re probably familiar with Nexium. This med is great for treating acid reflux and preventing stomach ulcers, but it can leave behind undesirable side effects.
Healthline notes you might get severe diarrhea or even inflammation in your kidneys from Nexium. Your risk of fracturing a bone can increase, and you can develop vitamin deficiencies. Taking the drug for long periods of time can make it harder for your body to absorb vitamin B-12, so daily supplements won’t help too much either.
Next: Have high cholesterol? You probably take this medication.
Used for: improving heart health
Many Americans take prescription meds to lower their cholesterol levels. Lipitor is prescribed for this, and it helps raise levels of good cholesterol for optimum heart health, too. Unfortunately, that’s not all it can do for your body. RxList says Lipitor can actually break down your muscles or cause kidney failure, a fever, or issues with your memory. Some lawsuits against the makers of this med claim it caused serious, long-lasting nerve problems.
These are the more severe side effects, of course, but even if you don’t experience those, you can still expect heartburn and muscle pain. Not fun at all.
Next: Some people have driven cars with no recollection of doing so while on this med.
Used for: treating insomnia
While medications like Ambien can help you fall asleep, meds like Halcion help you stay asleep through the night. Some scary side effects are associated with Halcion use, however, and eMedicineHealth says those can include vision problems, jaundice, or a fast, pounding heartbeat.
A more concerning side effect: Some people who take this med have driven cars, talked on the phone, or eaten meals without recalling these activities. If this happens to you while taking Halcion, you should call a doctor immediately.
Next: This med for high cholesterol can give you a common skin condition.
Used for: lowering bad cholesterol
Another med that helps with high cholesterol levels, Zocor helps prevent heart disease for many, but the side effects can be serious and rather strange. Drugs.com says it’s common to get eczema — that itchy, inflammatory skin condition. More severely, you can develop bloody urine, vision issues, breathing difficulties, or you might even have a hard time with all bodily movements. They’re uncommon, but these are just a few from the long list of Zocor’s possible side effects.
Next: This antipsychotic can cause men to have sexual problems.
Used for: treating schizophrenia and bipolar disorder
Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder requiring treatment, and Risperdal can help with the symptoms. Also a treatment for bipolar disorder, the antipsychotic may be more commonly prescribed than you think. In any case, the National Alliance on Mental Illness states it’s common to experience sexual dysfunction and erectile issues when taking this drug. And if you take Risperdal long-term, you may be at an increased risk of fracturing a bone.
Before using this med, you should check with your doctor about your risk of developing heart disease. Second-generation antipsychotics like this one increase your risk of having high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
Next: This cholesterol medication can cause major issues with your memory.
Used for: high cholesterol
Like the other high cholesterol medications, Crestor comes with a wealth of side effects you don’t want. When you take this med, it’s possible to develop unexplained muscle pain, breakdown, and weakness, especially if you’re over the age of 65. Also, it could harm your liver, so it’s important to get your liver checked before you take it.
Some people who have taken Crestor also reported memory problems and confusion. You probably didn’t anticipate one little cholesterol pill potentially doing so much.
Next: Coughing up blood is one possible side effect of this med.
Used for: preventing blood clots
A heart attack or stroke is a serious wake-up call that your body needs help. Thanks to meds like Plavix, you can prevent blood clots if you’ve recently had an attack or been diagnosed with a heart or blood vessel disorder. Because this prescription prevents clotting, it can also lead to alarming side effects like coughing up blood or blood in the urine. Easy bruising, weakness, and chest pain that spreads through the arms and the shoulders can also occur, eMedicineHealth reports.
Contact your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms, but it’s most important to tell your doctor if you’re coughing up blood that looks like coffee grounds. This could mean you’re bleeding in your digestive tract — a serious problem.
Next: A discouraging potential side effect of this med is rapid weight gain.
Used for: treating high blood pressure
Medications like Vasotec help relax the arteries that cause high blood pressure, an extremely common condition. It’s not all good, though. Vasotec lowers your blood pressure, so you might start to feel like you’re going to pass out while on this medication, eMedicineHealth notes. It’s also possible to have fast or uneven heartbeats, jaundice, or swelling accompanied by rapid weight gain. Even the less serious side effects can cause undesirable issues like insomnia or nausea.
Next: Irregular heartbeat and breathing problems are just a few of this med’s serious side effects.
Used for: relaxing the prostate muscles and treating hypertension
Yes, this medication can treat high blood pressure, too. But that’s not all it does. Cardura is often prescribed to men with an enlarged prostate. And Healthline notes it commonly causes drowsiness and dizziness from having a lower blood pressure. Unfortunately, it’s also possible for Cardura to cause irregular heartbeat, breathing problems, or even a painful erection that can last for hours. Sounds unpleasant, right?
Next: This medication saves lives, but it can be seriously dangerous.
Used for: reducing narcotics withdrawal symptoms
This narcotic is a true lifesaver for those dealing with opioid dependence. Everyday Health explains it actually changes the way your nervous system responds to pain, making withdrawal symptoms more bearable. But Methadone also carries a black box warning because it can cause potentially life-threatening breathing problems. It can also cause a rare heart condition that results in an irregular heartbeat or even sudden death.
On top of all this, Methadone is highly addictive; you have to gradually come off of it to avoid withdrawal symptoms like muscle pain, restlessness, and anxiety.
Read more: 10 Medications That May Cause Weight Gain