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22 Common Medications That Can Be Bad Long-Term

Sleeping Pills

Sleeping Pills

Sleeping pills can be a huge help if you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, depending on the pill. Like other meds, using a sleeping medicine is all right short-term. However, if you use it long-term, you can build up a tolerance, and you’ll need a stronger dose. Quitting the med may seem impossible.

At the very least, sleeping may be even more difficult once quitting your sleep aids. Even those without diagnosed insomnia can find it difficult to sleep. Whether they are over-the-counter or prescription, sleeping meds are not deemed safe for long-term use. Common side effects of sleeping pills include constipation, diarrhea, headache and fatigue.

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NSAIDs

NSAIDs

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, or NSAIDs, are used to reduce pain and inflammation. Most commonly people take them for headaches and those suffering from chronic pain. Because of this, we see people using them for extended periods of time. Ironically, they can end up causing you more pain when you take too much.

 

Using NSAIDs too often can be problematic for older adults, where we see them put at risk for indigestion, ulcers, and stomach and colon bleeding. It’s not unusual to see blood pressure rise or to see kidneys harmed because of these drugs. Users are even put at risk for heart failure.

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Antibiotics

Antibiotics

Doctors are becoming less likely to prescribe an antibiotic unless absolutely necessary due to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. Using antibiotics long-term can cause adverse side effects on immunity, including getting sicker with illnesses due to drug-resistant bacteria. So in many cases, doctors are finding it better to have the body naturally fight off infection.

 

Antibiotics can also lead to digestive problems due to the lack of healthy bacteria in your gut. Some symptoms include abdominal pain, loss of appetite, vomiting, nausea, and indigestion. Antibiotics have also been linked to increasing the risk of Type 1 Diabetes with prolonged use. on top of this, antibiotics can be a common cause for drug-induced liver injury.

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Tylenol

Tylenol

Tylenol is great for short-term use, but patients should think twice about using it long-term. Recently, studies have shown that scientists and doctors underestimated the risks of acetaminophen. Liver damage is the most common long-term side effect. Some of the drug is converted into a toxic metabolite that can harm liver cells.

Reports say that the damage usually goes unnoticed until it’s too late, making this drug even more dangerous. What’s more, the World Health Organization suggestion people take no more than 325mg in one sitting to prevent liver damage, but many American brands have up to 500mg. Many people experience kidney damage after taking Tylenol for long periods of time.

 

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Prozac

Prozac

Prozac is an antidepressant drug used by nearly 6 million Americans. Most people take it without hesitation — scary when you consider that it is a drug that is designed to alter your brain composition. Which, for Tony Soprano, was not such a good thing. The drug is used for those suffering from depression, OCD, panic attacks and bulimia among other things.

They are meant to be taken for a year or two tops, but this drug is highly addictive, and many people opt to keep taking it for longer periods of time. Antidepressants are linked to stomach bleeding, low sodium levels, and an increased risk of strokes. It can also cause increased difficulty in sleeping.

 

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Heartburn Drugs

Heartburn Drugs

Heartburn is extremely common. Most people will suffer from it in some way at some point during their lives. Heartburn is a misleading name, though. It’s the result of stomach acid flowing up into your esophagus, some place it’s obviously not supposed to be.  Heartburn drugs function to repress your stomach acid.

While this may be fine for short-term uses, long-term use will cause problems because stomach acid is crucial to our health. Add in the fact that these drugs do nothing to fix your problem, only hide it, and it leaves you wondering why you aren’t already looking for newer, better ways to manage your heartburn.

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Prednisone

Prednisone

Prednisone is a steroid that many consider to be a miracle drug, working wonders to help people struggling with a few diseases, such as arthritis, cancer, and immune disorders. The drug belongs to a class of drugs called corticosteroids and its used to treat inflammation in patients with naturally lower levels of steroids in their body.

Using it for longer than a few weeks can cause problems, and using it for longer than a few months can make it so risky to simply stop taking the medication that you need professional help to wean yourself off. It can cause high blood pressure, weight gain, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, and diabetes, among other problems.

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Xanax

Xanax

Xanax is an extremely common drug used for anxiety and panic disorders. There are about 50 million prescriptions for it issued each year. Valium, another similar drug, is also very popular. What most people don’t realize, however, is that they are dangerous drugs. There are several severe side effects that may drastically decrease your quality of life.

Any benzodiazepine drug, like these two, puts the users at risk. In addition to addiction, benzodiazepine drugs can cause a few brain-related problems such as delirium, psychosis, depression, memory impairment, and sedation when they are used long-term. Other severe side effects include decreased motor coordination, loss of sex drive, and increased anxiety.

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Antipsychotics

Antipsychotics

Antipsychotic drugs are used to treat a large variety of disorders ranging from mental health ones such as bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder to more common health problems such as sleep or anxiety. On top of this, they can be used to treat severe cases of depression. Antipsychotic drugs are designed for people with schizophrenia, however.

These drugs have limited testing available for how well they work for or whether they should be used long-term with other problems. Long-term use may result in weight gain or movement disorders. Elderly users may even be put at a higher risk for strokes. Typical side effects of using antipsychotics include weight gain, sedation, and restlessness. They also put you at a higher risk of getting diabetes.

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Nasal Sprays

Nasal Sprays

Nasal sprays designed for nasal decongestion may provide quick relief from symptoms, but they aren't a long-term solution. A stuffy nose can be irritating, but you shouldn’t use them longer than the timeframe on the label. Taking the medication too long can actually make your congestion worse, particularly if you are using them everyday. 

It isn’t unusual for an individual to be unable to breathe without using nasal sprays long-term. The nose becomes unable to clear itself, meaning it becomes a necessary medication to breathe from your nasal passages. Continuous usage of nasal sprays will require more and more doses as the blood vessels will stop responding to the sprays. 

 

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Diuretics

Diuretics

Diuretics, often called water pills, are designed to force the body to excrete excess water to help the kidney. However, long-term use can deplete the body of vital minerals because of this flushing, removing minerals such as potassium and magnesium. These drugs have also been tied to increased mortality rates and heart failure.

Additionally, diuretics can interact negatively with other medications and conditions. These include things like Prozac, blood pressure medications, and diabetes. Common side effects of diuretics include headache, loss of appetite and hair loss. Dehydration, low potassium, erectile dysfunction and high blood sugar are complications that can arise from taking diuretics, so use with caution.

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Methotrexate

Methotrexate

Methotrexate, along with other chemotherapeutic agents, are dangerous in the long-term. It treats everything from arthritis to cancer, but it comes at a serious risk. It kills cells — all cells — without regard for the type of cell it is killing. It’s dangerous for pregnant women and their unborn children.

Nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and drowsiness are all possible side effects with the medication. Temporary hair loss may also occur but hair usually regrows after you stop using the medication. It can cause fatal reactions in people also taking NSAIDs. Bone, liver, kidney, intestinal, and immune problems are all associated with this drug and its long-term usage.

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Benadryl

Benadryl

Benadryl is commonly taken for allergies, but some people take it as a sleeping pill. No matter the reason, this drug can be dangerous long-term. Some people can become addicted to it, and the body will become dependent. They also lose effectiveness quickly, so there's really no point. And taking higher doses of Benadryl can be dangerous.

Insomnia, nausea, anxiety, and constipation are just a few of the symptoms a person can experience. Long-term use also affects mental cognition, especially in the elderly. It can cause depression, fatigue, confusion, and even hallucinations. Taking more Benadryl than the recommended dose can lead to heart problems, seizures, coma, and worst of all, death.

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Statins

Statins

Statins and blood thinners are often given hand in hand to prevent heart attacks and heart disease. Statins are cholesterol-lowering drugs that block a substance in your body that makes cholesterol. But statins can do just as much harm as they can do good. In some cases, statins can actually harm the liver.

 

Additionally, long-term users have reported memory loss and muscle pain. Although rare, statins may cause life-threatening muscle damage known as rhabdomyolysis. Finally, statins can slightly raise a patient’s risk of Type 2 Diabetes, especially in those who have a family history of the condition.  Liver damage and memory loss are other possible side effects.

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Laxatives

Laxatives

Laxatives may be necessary every now and then, but constant daily use? That can be dangerous. Your body could get used to the drugs and become dependent on them. Laxatives can potentially lead to several digestive problems that can inhibit your ability to have a normal bowel movement ever again. 

Some older adults found themselves severely constipated and compacted because their laxatives no longer work, and they need something stronger to clear themselves out. The bowels eventually lose the inability to work properly, so it’s best to go natural, if possible.  Irritable bowel syndrome and pancreatitis may occur in individuals who regularly use laxatives.

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Adderall

Adderall

We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of prescriptions handed out — a 40% increase between 2007 and 2011, resulting in 50 million prescriptions in 2011. In fact, about 10% of children are taking Adderall these days. It’s an ADHD drug used to increase attention span but it is not without its problems.

Because of this, we’ve seen it get abused as a “smart drug” on school campuses everywhere as students attempt to cope with the rigorous and stressful school system we have. The real problem with Adderall is chemical. It increases serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine in the brain, the chemicals responsible for pleasure, reward, and motivation. In turn, the brain stops producing these chemicals. When you try to get off Adderall, your brain no longer functions how it should without its crutch.

 

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Blood Thinners

Blood Thinners

Blood thinners and anticoagulants, such as Warfarin, used in the long-term can be problematic, to say the least. They are often prescribed for long-term use to protect people against heart attacks by thinning the blood, allowing it to flow more freely. It works by preventing blood clots that can travel to the heart.

One of the more serious, and surprisingly simple, problems that come from this is how easy it is to bleed. Because your blood becomes thin, it becomes difficult for your blood to clot, meaning the little cuts that you could get while shaving or opening the mail may bleed far more than they should.

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Estrogen

Estrogen

As women go through menopause, their body stops producing as much estrogen as they had up until that point. Hormone replacement therapy can help women suffering from symptoms of menopause but it also causes side effects. These results in a variety of problems, some of which are simply uncomfortable while others are downright dangerous.

Sometimes, women take hormone-therapy drugs to get their estrogen levels higher to relieve these problems. Long-term use of estrogen comes with plenty of documented problems, such as an increased risk of breast cancer, blood clots, and dementia. Commonly, estrogen supplement therapy can cause bloating, vaginal bleeding, leg cramps and swelling.

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Oral Decongestants

Oral Decongestants

Oral decongestants are also bad long-term. They work by narrowing the blood vessels to relieve swelling and congestion. Temporarily, Sudafed can be safely used to relieve symptoms of congestion if you have the cold or flu, but in the long-term, pseudoephedrine by mouth long-term can lead to problems including seizures, hallucinations, headaches, and insomnia.

Lingering congestion may also be a sign of a more significant issue, which needs to be taken care of quickly or else it can cause other problems. Never take pseudoephedrine longer than seven days unless otherwise directed by a doctor. It should never be given to children who are under the age of 6. 

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SSRIs

SSRIs

SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are one of the most common antidepressants prescribed by doctors. SSRIs are becoming more and more common, but studies are beginning to show that they’re dangerous for patients in the long-term. People who do use them long-term can find it immensely challenging to stop taking them.

They go into withdrawal effects that were far worse than their depression had ever been. They report feeling dry mouth, bizarre thoughts, and a sense of detachment from reality. Nausea, restlessness, drowsiness and sexual problems are common, which can all affect your quality of life. Those who are pregnant or have abnormal heart rhythms should use these drugs with caution.

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Albuterol

Albuterol

Albuterol may save someone during an asthma attack, but the danger comes when people use it more and more to control their asthma. Using it long-term can begin to cause insomnia, agitation, and even upper respiratory effects. In fact, it isn’t uncommon for long-term albuterol users to get clogged noses, throats, and upper airways. 

Some of these side effects can be avoided by switching from the pill version of the drug to the inhaler version. The inhaler version is also said to be more effective as the medicine is delivered more effectively to the lungs. However, most symptoms can only be relieved by lowering the dosage amount and frequency of use. 

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Opiates

Opiates

The opiate crisis has brought attention to the dangers of long-term use of narcotics. According to the CDC, more than70% of the 70,630 deaths in 2019 involved an opioid of some kind. No matter your willpower strength, your body becomes dependent on the drug. Addiction is characterized by the compulsive urge to use opioids. 

The pain that required the prescription can even become worse due to the medication. Additionally, it can cause liver damage and constipation. The brain could also become damaged due to hypoxia. Commonly, opioids cause respiratory depression, sedation, and physical dependence. Because of these problems, doctors often avoid prescribing medications like tramadol, Vicodin, and morphine when possible.