Pharmaceuticals often come with a number of side effects, ranging from severely dangerous to outright bizarre. Outlandish side effects serve to highlight the benefit of choosing natural substances over highly-synthetic pharmaceuticals. From LSD-esque hallucinations to turning your urine blue, here are 10 strange medication side effects that you’ve probably never heard of as reported by Everyday Health:
1. Kooky Hallucinations Triggered by Meds
Hallucinations occur when you sense something that is not really there — and having them can be a frightening drug side effect. Hallucinations can be seen, heard, felt, or even smelled. And while we usually associate hallucinations with recreational drugs like LSD, one well-known prescription drug that may also cause hallucinations is the sleep aid Lunesta (eszopiclone). Lexapro (escitalopram), a common medication used for depression, has also been known to cause hallucinations.
2. Meds That Make Your Urine Blue
It’s not unusual to notice a change in urine color. For example, beets can turn your urine pink and vitamins may make your urine bright orange. But can you imagine seeing your urine turn green or blue? This odd symptom can be a side effect of taking the antidepressant Elavil (amitriptyline) or the common pain reliever Indocin (indomethacin). In addition, the antibiotic Flagyl (metronidazole) can cause urine to turn black.
3. Weird Dream-Weaving Drugs
The medication Chantix (varencline), prescribed to help people stop smoking, is known to cause dreams that are super strange and vivid. Even stranger? People taking the prescription sleep aid Ambien (zolpidem) have been known to get up at night, go for a drive, talk on the phone, or even have sex — and not remember anything in the morning.
4. Gas-Passing Prescriptions
There are few drug side effects more annoying than a sudden attack of bloating followed by flatulence. Abdominal bloating can be both uncomfortable and embarrassing. Medications that contain the sugars lactulose or sorbitol, which are used to treat constipation, can cause bloating, as can over-the-counter antacids with calcium carbonate, such as Tums and Rolaids. Prilosec (omeprazole), a commonly prescribed heartburn medication, also has bloating as a drug side effect.
5. Drugs That Add Unwanted Pounds
What if taking a medication could cause you to gain 20 pounds in only three months? That is what one study found for some people who were taking the medication Zyprexa (olanzapine) for bipolar disorder. Common medications used to treat depression, such as Paxil (paroxetine), can also cause unintended weight gain. Other drugs that can pack on the pounds include steroids, birth control pills, hormone replacement therapies, and some diabetes medications.
6. Sexual Side Effects: An Undesirable Symptom
The most common sexual medication side effect is the loss of the ability to perform or enjoy sex — and this is caused by some drugs that treat depression. These medications are called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and they include the common drugs Prozac (fluoxetine), Celexa (citalopram), and Zoloft (sertraline). Another drug side effect is a weird symptom called priapism, a painful erection that lasts for more than four hours, which may occur when taking the antidepressant Desyrel (trazodone).
7. Beware These Drugs That Cause Birth Defects
Birth defects are a very serious medication side effect — and this is why pregnant women are told not to take any drugs before first checking with their doctor. Types of drugs that can cause birth defects include vitamin A in high doses, some blood pressure medications, and some antibiotics. Two drugs that are especially dangerous and potentially fatal for developing babies are Accutane (isotretinoin) and Thalomid (thalidomide). Accutane is used to treat severe acne and Thalomid is used to treat a type of white blood cell cancer.
8. Seeing Spots? Could Be Your Medication
Visual disturbances may include blind spots, distorted vision, blurred vision, or halos around lights. Medications that can affect your vision include antihistamines, high blood pressure medications, and medications taken for malaria or tuberculosis. One common medication that can cause the weird symptom of tinting your vision blue or green is the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra (sildenafil).
9. Meds That Make Hair Grow in Weird Places
Most people are familiar with the hair loss that goes along with some types of cancer treatment, but there are also several other common medications that cause hair loss. These include blood thinners, birth control pills, antidepressants, and medication used to treat gout. Hair growth can also be a drug side effect — women may experience unwanted hair growth from steroid medications and from the drug Danocrine (danazol), used to treat endometriosis.
10. Tendon Ruptures Are a Drug Side Effect, Too
Tore a tendon? You wouldn’t think that taking a common medication used to treat urinary tract infections could cause you to rupture your Achilles tendon, but that is the warning that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued for the class of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones. According to the FDA, pain, swelling, and tears of tendons in the heel, shoulder, and hand are more likely when taking these drugs. Common medications in this class include the antibiotics Cipro (ciprofloxacin) and Levaquin (levofloxacin).