Antacids and other common medicines that can have major side effects

Many of us don’t think twice before popping a pill. What we often forget is that every drug has some or the other side effect on our body.

Myupchar November 11, 2019 17:30:56 IST
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Antacids and other common medicines that can have major side effects
  • Most antacids are made of a combination of aluminium, magnesium, calcium and sodium salts, each of which has its own set of side effects

  • Apart from diarrhoea and nausea, some of the common side effects of metformin include flatulence, weakness and headache

  • Tetracyclines are not regarded as toxic but they can have some mild to severe and life-threatening side effects

Medicines make our lives easier. Have a headache? Take a painkiller. Got heartburn? Antacids to the rescue. They help us go about our daily tasks without too much interference. But at what cost? Many of us don’t think twice before popping a pill. What we often forget is that every drug has some or the other side effect on our body. The sicker you are, the worse these side effects can be. 

This is why your doctor takes your age, health and clinical history into consideration before prescribing you any drug. The US Food and Drug Administration, the authority that approves all the commercially available drugs, recommends reading the medicine leaflet every time you buy a non-prescription medicine to know if it is bad for your health. 

Regardless of which drug you are taking, chances are you may get an upset stomach or nausea - two of the most common effects of virtually every drug. However, other effects could vary widely - they might occur due to regular use for an extended period of time, overuse of the medication and/or a reaction with another substance in your body. 

Antacids and other common medicines that can have major side effects

Representational image. Image source: Getty Images.

Here is a list of the most commonly prescribed and non-prescribed drugs along with their possible side effects on your health.

Antacids

Antacids are probably the most widely used over-the-counter (OTC) drug. They help reduce the secretion of stomach acids and are effective against indigestion, acid reflux and heartburn. 

Most antacids are made of a combination of aluminium, magnesium, calcium and sodium salts, each of which has its own set of side effects. Those with magnesium can cause diarrhoea and those with aluminium or calcium can cause constipation. Calcium-containing antacids can also increase your risk of kidney stones and aluminium antacids put you at risk of calcium loss and osteoporosis.

Antacids should never be given to infants. Those with kidney failure should talk to their doctor before using any kind of antacid since it may cause toxicity in their body.

Researchers have found that another kind of antacids - proton pump inhibitors (PPI) - can cause acute (sudden) or chronic (gradual) kidney damage. Medicines like pantoprazole and omeprazole are PPI-based. India's Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation, Directorate General of Health Services, has recently asked all PPI manufacturers to put possible kidney damage as a side effect of these type of antacids in the drug leaflet.

Diclofenac Sodium

If you do not know it as the painkilling drug, you may recognise Diclofenac as topical gels like Moov or Volini. Diclofenac is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that reduces pain and swelling. This drug is associated with several health conditions ranging from cardiovascular thrombosis to heart attack and stroke. NSAIDs like diclofenac can also cause bleeding, ulcers and fatal perforations in the stomach and intestines. Those with a kidney or liver condition should consult their doctor before using oral diclofenac. 

As for topical diclofenac, they can lead to localised adverse reactions and dermatitis.

Amoxicillin

If you’ve ever had a bacterial infection, chances are that you have had amoxicillin. It is a semi-synthetic, wide range, Penicillin-like antibiotic that is used to control bacterial growth. Though this drug does not show many adverse effects, one in 10 people may get nausea and diarrhoea. One in every 15 people is at risk of severe allergic reaction and anaphylaxis. In serious cases - one in 1,000 people - it may cause stomach cramps, excessive diarrhoea, hemorrhagic colitis, skin rashes and bruises.

Metformin

Metformin is a prescription drug used to treat type 2 diabetes. It is sometimes also given to patients with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). This drug reduces your blood sugar levels and is available in both tablet and liquid form. Apart from diarrhoea and nausea, some of the common side effects of metformin include flatulence, weakness and headache. The National Health Service (NHS), UK, says that if you have a heart or a liver disease, or if you have recently had a heart attack, or if you drink a lot of alcohol, it is best to tell your doctor before taking this drug.

Metformin can cause a life-threatening condition called lactic acidosis in patients with kidney disease. Lactic acidosis is a condition in which the person’s body starts to produce excess lactic acid which manifests as jaundice, weakness and confusion.  

Tetracyclines

Tetracyclines are yet another type of antibacterial drugs that are used for the treatment of a wide range of infections ranging from pneumonia to skin and eye infections and urinary tract infections. There are various types of tetracyclines, including chlortetracycline, oxytetracycline and methacycline. Doxycycline is the newer and most commonly used tetracycline. It slows down the growth of bacteria - rather than killing them. Tetracyclines are not regarded as toxic but they can have some mild to severe and life-threatening side effects. Mild side effects include allergies, diarrhoea, indigestion, and photosensitivity. In serious cases, tetracyclines can cause blurred or double vision, swelling of the face and throat, chest pain, bleeding, bruising, joint pain and swelling and superinfections with fungi or other microbes that are not susceptible to tetracyclines.  

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. For more information, please read our article on  Heartburn: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment.

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