The Strangest Drug Side Effects

by Gregg Gustafson

Whenever you get a new prescription, the pharmacy provides a breakdown of the possible side effects of the drug. You might expect to see nausea, vomiting, headaches, or drowsiness listed as potential effects of the medication, but some common drugs can cause unusual side effects.

Imagine: Waking up with no memory of your family or a period of your life. You might think that only happens in movies, but if you take certain medications, amnesia is a possible side effect. Statin drugs like Lipitor, which lower cholesterol, can cause amnesia. Taking Mirapex –also known as pramipexole-- for Parkinson’s disease or Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) can also cause amnesia.


Most people take medication to get rid of aches and pains, not cause them. But if you take prescriptions – like Lipitor, mentioned above, or Allegra, for allergies—you might actually experience unexpected muscle aches and pains. Some people even lose muscle coordination and control when taking these drugs.

Men taking Zoloft for depression have reported uncontrollable and extremely painful erections and, though it is not necessarily physically painful, men taking Propecia for hair loss may experience the effect of Gynecomastia – otherwise known as “man boobs.”

Sensory Problems

Viagra, often known as “the little blue pill,” is a miracle pill for erectile dysfunction, but it leaves some patients seeing blue. That’s right – taking Viagra can actually affect your vision. Patients have reported blurred vision, trouble distinguishing between colors, and yes, a blue tint to their vision.

Vasotec is another drug known to cause sensory side effects. Prescribed to treat high blood pressure and congestive heart failure, Vasotec can affect the senses. There have been reports of patients losing their senses of taste and smell, and developing blurred vision and a ringing in the ears.

And if you take Xeloda, a common cancer drug, you could experience chronic inflammation of your hands and the soles of your feet – and in some rare cases, lose your fingerprints altogether.

Colored Urine

Chances are, if your urine comes out anything other than clear or a shade of yellow, you’re going to be concerned. But if you take certain medications, rainbow colored waste is a possibility. For example:

Some antibiotics, such as Flagyl and furazolidone, as well as the high blood pressure drug Aldomet can cause black urine. In this case, the discoloration is a reaction between compounds in the drug and any bleach that’s in the toilet bowl—it doesn’t actually come out that color.

Elavil, an antidepressant sometimes used to treat bed-wetting, can cause green urine. So can the muscle relaxant Robaxin.The diuretic Dyrenium can cause blue urine. In some cases, the compound methylene blue used in drugs can give your pee a Smurfy shade.

Hallucinations and Suicidal Thoughts

If you’re seeing or hearing things that no one else can, it might be your medication. Patients taking Mirapex, the drug prescribed to Parkinson’s patients, have reported frightening hallucinations. Lariam, an anti-malaria drug, has a risk of hallucinations, violent behavior, suicides and suicidal thoughts in patients.

Also, suicidal thoughts and attempts are common with the antidepressant Paxil, and the quit smoking drug Chantix.

Sleep DisturbancesYou’ve probably heard tales of people doing strange things after taking the sleep drugs Ambien or Lunesta. Users have reported doing a variety of activities, including shopping, sleeping, sex and driving, while taking these medications – and having no memory of it the next day. These sleep inducers can also cause nightmares and night terrors.

Night terrors are also a potential side effect of Chantix, the popular drug to help patients stop smoking.

Bowel Issues

Dieters rejoiced with the release of the fat-absorbing drug, Xenical. However, if users eat too much fat, they can expect some unpleasant side effects, including gas with “oily discharge” and an urgent need to have bowel movements more often. You know it’s bad when the manufacturer suggests carrying a change of clothes with you! The same side effects apply to Xenical’s over-the-counter version, Alli.

If you take Pepto-Bismol for an upset stomach, don’t be surprised if your stool is hard and black or gray; it’s a harmless side effect, but common.

Compulsive Behaviors

For all of the good that Mirapex does for Parkinson’s patients, it has a number of strange side effects -- in addition to the ones mentioned above, it can also cause compulsive behaviors. Some users have reported becoming addicted to food, shopping, alcohol, gambling and even sex when taking the drug. Requip, prescribed for RLA, can have the same effect.

If your doctor prescribes a new medication, always read the package insert to learn about possible side effects. If you experience any, especially those that are severe or unusual, call your doctor right away.

This guest post article was written and provided by Gregg Gustafson who is a freelance writer and consultant for Gustafson works with individuals who suffer from drug abuse, in turn referring them to some of the most prestige residential drug rehab centers active today.

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