Diet Pills: Physiological effects

Last modified: Sunday, 31. May 2009 - 1:24 pm

A person who takes diet pills expects to lose weight. These drugs help with weight reduction by suppressing the appetite and increasing the sensation of feeling full. People who take diet pills and follow a weight-management plan of diet and exercise should lose weight. However, diet pills also produce other possible physiological changes that range from dizziness to an increased number of bowel movements.
Sympathomimetic diet pills. Taking anorectics can impair a person’s ability to drive, operate heavy equipment, or perform other potentially hazardous activities. In addition, taking sympathomimetics late in the day can cause insomnia.
Other side effects include dizziness, dryness in the mouth, a false feeling of well-being, nausea, irritability, and nervousness. A person taking these drugs may tremble or shake. Other symptoms occur less frequently. These include blurred vision and a lessening of the sex drive or decreased ability to experience an erection. The person may sweat more and need to urinate more frequently.
Orlistat. Orlistat can cause temporary symptoms such as an increased number of bowel movements, gas with discharge, oily or fatty stools, and the inability to control bowel movement. The person taking orlistat may feel an urgent need to go to the bathroom. These symptoms are generally mild and short-term in nature. However, the symptoms can be aggravated if a person eats high-fat foods.
In addition, orlistat reduces the body’s ability to absorb some vitamins. To compensate for that, person taking orlistat must take a multivitamin two hours before or after taking the drug.
Pregnancy and motherhood. Women who are pregnant or nursing their babies should consult with their physician about diet pill use. Orlistat is not recommended for use by pregnant women. Factors to consider about other diet pills are:
• The effects of methamphetamine on pregnant women are not known, so expectant mothers are advised against taking this drug unless health benefits outweigh risk factors.
• Pregnant mothers who are dependent on amphetamines risk giving birth prematurely. The baby may have a low birth weight and could experience withdrawal symptoms.
• The FDA placed benzphetamine in its pregnancy category X because the drug causes birth defects.
• The effects of phendimetrazine on an unborn baby are unknown.
• Nursing mothers should check with their doctors about use of sympathomimetics. It is not known if the mother transmits the drug to the baby through breast milk.
Harmful side effects
Anorectics. Taking anorectics can produce dizziness, restlessness, or blurred vision. People using these drugs may not realize they are extremely tired. Long-term use can lead to addiction.
Sympathomimetics can be physically addictive and should not be prescribed to people with a history of drug abuse. A person may develop a tolerance to the drug and attempt to increase the dosage. The person may develop intoxication symptoms such as insomnia and severe skin diseases.
Withdrawal symptoms. When people stop taking anorectics, their bodies need to adapt to the lack of drugs in their systems. The amount of withdrawal time will vary, depending on the strength of the dosage and how long the patient used it. Withdrawal symptoms could include insomnia, nightmares, nausea, vomiting, and stomach cramps. The person may also experience strong hunger pangs.
Sympathomimetic drug overdose. Some overdose symptoms are similar to those experienced during withdrawal. These include cramps, nightmares, nausea, and trembling. Vomiting will be more intense. The person may be dizzy and blood pressure may drop or rise. Respiration (breathing) is rapid, and the person may faint.
The final signs of a fatal overdose are generally convulsions and coma.
Sibutramine. Sibutramine can cause mild increases in blood pressure and pulse rates. The FDA advised people taking sibutramine to have their blood pressure evaluated regularly.
As of 2002, it was not known whether sibutramine caused primary pulmonary hypertension. However, sibutramine was not recommended for people with conditions including heart disease, irregular heartbeat, or a history of stroke.
Long-term health effects
Only two diet pills on the market in 2002 were recommended for long-term use, orlistat and sibutramine. Long-term effects of sibutramine were not known in 2000.
Use of orlistat could interfere with the body’s absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and beta carotene. Long-term use could result in deficiencies of vitamins A, D, E, and K, and beta carotene. Patients are advised to take supplements. Another possible side effect is calcium deficiency.
Long-term use of sympathomimetic diet pills. A patient generally develops a tolerance to the effects of an anorectic drug within several weeks, and the pill is no longer effective as an appetite suppressant. Use of the drug should then be discontinued because of the risk of addiction.

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