Prescription Weight Loss Drugs
The Side Effects of Prescription Weight Loss Drugs
Most appetite suppressants are used as a short-term treatment for obese people. Not only do the drugs' effects tend to wear off after a short time, but they can also have some unpleasant side effects, including:
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Insomnia (inability to sleep or stay asleep)
- Excessive thirst
- Stuffy nose
- Dry mouth
Some side effects with orlistat include abdominal cramping, passing gas, leakage of oily stool, increased number of bowel movements, and the inability to control bowel movements. These side effects are generally mild and temporary, but may be worsened by eating foods that are high in fat. Patients should eat a low-fat diet (less than 30% of calories from fat) before taking orlistat. Because orlistat reduces the absorption of some vitamins, people taking orlistat should take a multivitamin at least two hours before or after taking the medication.
Because most of these drugs are not recommended for long-term use, it is important for people who are trying to lose weight to learn new eating habits and to exercise while the drug is still effective. Once healthy eating and regular exercise have been learned, it is important to continue eating right and exercising if you hope to continue losing weight and keep lost weight from returning.
With Qsymia, women who might become pregnant are told to use effective birth control while on the drug, and monthly pregnancy tests are also recommended, along with an initial negative pregnancy test before starting the medication. Topiramate has been linked to an increased risk for cleft lip and cleft palate in babies.
Qsymia also must not be used in people with glaucoma or hyperthyroidism. And it's not recommended for people with recent or unstable heart disease or stroke. Patients are recommended to have regular checks of their heart rate when starting the drug or increasing the dose.
Weight loss drugs are not for everybody. For example, there are limited studies on these medications' effects on older adults and on children.
Discussing Prescription Weight Loss Drugs With Your Doctor
Before a doctor will prescribe a prescription weight loss drug, he or she will ask you about the following: any existing allergies you may have, whether or not you are pregnant or breastfeeding, and what types of other drugs you may be taking. Existing medical conditions may also affect the use of these drugs. You should tell your doctor if you have any medical conditions, including the following:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Epilepsy (seizures)
- Alcohol or drug abuse (or a history of)
- Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
Depression or other mental illness
- Migraine headaches requiring medication
- Planning to have surgery requiring general anesthesia
- Pregnancy or planning to become pregnant
People who are prescribed appetite suppressants should follow the prescription carefully. Because some appetite suppressants may cause drowsiness or lightheadedness, it is important to know how you respond to these medications before you attempt to drive or operate machinery.