Have you ever thought of abruptly stopping certain medications because it seems like your symptoms are only becoming worse? There’s always a risk for side effects when taking drugs because of their chemical components. A side effect may not be necessarily dangerous, unless it’s an allergic reaction that will need immediate medical attention.
But, not taking your medications, however, may have dire consequences, too. This article discusses dangerous medicines you must not discontinue abruptly.
Is It Okay To Stop Taking Medications Abruptly? Here Are 5 Medications That You Shouldn’t:
There’s a reason why prescription medications shouldn’t be obtained without a doctor’s authorization. Also, while you can decide to halt some medications by your own volition, there are certain meds that you should continue using until your doctor allows you to. These include:
1. Antihypertensive Drugs
If you suffer from hypertension, you probably know how important it is to keep your blood pressure under control. High blood pressure presents various complications, such as heart and kidney disease, stroke, and vision loss.
For many people, controlling their blood pressure takes months or years. If you’re one of the many people who have to deal with this condition, you should see a specialist who can prescribe the proper medication to control your blood pressure.
People with hypertension should always follow their doctor’s instructions. ACE inhibitors and calcium channel blockers are common high blood pressure medications. These medications may also cause side effects, like headaches, lightheadedness, stomach problems, or nausea.
However, when you abruptly stop taking high blood pressure meds, you’re putting yourself in a life-threatening situation like a stroke or heart attack. If you wish to discontinue medications that manage your blood pressure, you should consult with your cardiologist to recommend the best steps to take.
Antihypertensive medications effectively control your high blood pressure until your doctor decides that you’re no longer eligible for them. If you don’t want to take any prescription drug, there are many natural methods to lower your high blood pressure. For example, a diet low in salt and high in fresh fruits and vegetables can help your vessels shrink.
You may also want to try relaxation techniques, such as yoga and meditation, to manage stress levels and prevent your blood pressure from rising.
Venlafaxine and Imipramine are two other commonly prescribed antidepressants. These drugs are prescribed to manage depression, as well as panic and anxiety disorders. The problem with using antidepressants is that they can be addictive.
Many people who’ve become addicted to these medications could not rid themselves of them after they became habituated to taking them. It’s also possible to experience side effects, like stomach pain, nausea, loss of appetite, insomnia, and more. Because of this problem, you shouldn’t take more than the recommended dose or take it for an extended period.
You should also never stop taking these without first talking with your doctor, who can explain to you the antidepressant withdrawal timeline. There are various serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) available for you to choose from if you’re experiencing side effects with your current medication.
Instead of stopping antidepressants abruptly, you should consult your doctor and see if they can replace what you’re taking.
3. Prescription Opioids
Opiate pain medications are the most commonly prescribed drugs for the treatment of acute and chronic pain. There are two types of pain medications: opiates, including fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone, oxymorphone, morphine, and codeine. The others are non-opiate, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Opioid painkillers target opiate receptors and pain sensors to reduce or cease the pain.
It’s essential to realize that opiate medications do have side effects, like any other prescription medication. These side effects can cause a severe decline in the opiate receptors and increase the pain they’re originally prescribed for.
Sudden discontinuation or reducing the dose of opioid medications, however, can have serious consequences, too. The patient may feel withdrawal symptoms, including teary eyes, restlessness, diarrhea, and anxiety.
Abruptly discontinuing opioid painkillers may also result in depression and uncontrollable pain. The safest way to stop taking these pain medications is to reach out to your doctor, who’ll gradually lower the dosage so you can avoid withdrawal symptoms.
4. Prescription Steroids
Steroids are chemicals that mimic the hormones that are naturally produced by the body. Your doctor may prescribe you steroids to manage or treat hormone-related problems.
Some people take steroids to improve their physical appearance, as well as for performance enhancement reasons. There are different side effects associated with the use of prescription steroids, such as weight gain, mood changes, muscle weakness, and susceptibility to bruising.
The improper use of steroids can lead to serious health problems, like liver and kidney failure, heart attack, and even death in extreme circumstances. If you use steroids for extended periods, you increase the risk of getting some form of cancer.
However, the immediate discontinuation of steroids isn’t recommended since the body needs time to return to its regular pattern. When you stop taking steroids abruptly, your blood sugar levels and blood pressure may be negatively affected. Thus, ask your physician how you can stop steroid use properly and safely.
5. Thyroid Medications
People suffering from hypothyroidism are prescribed medications to regulate their hormone levels. Levothyroxine is the drug usually prescribed to manage hypothyroidism. Like any medicine, levothyroxine can produce side effects, like heat sensitivity, changes in appetite, weight, and menstrual cycle, as well as headaches and diarrhea.
On the other hand, thionamide drugs, like propylthiouracil (PTU) and methimazole, regulate excessive thyroid hormones. Antithyroid drugs are used to slow the metabolism and improve the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and minerals. These medications are usually prescribed after the doctor ascertains that an overactive thyroid causes your thyroid disorder.
Stopping your thyroid medication or lowering the dose without your doctor’s approval can have severe and even fatal consequences.
A thyrotoxic crisis that ensues can cause fainting, fever, palpitations, and even coma. It’s better to take your medication as prescribed to avoid a thyroid storm. It would help if you never stopped taking any thyroid medication suddenly without checking with your doctor to prevent life-threatening outcomes.
Some of the other medications you shouldn’t stop suddenly include tranquilizers, beta-blockers, and antipsychotic drugs. You should visit your doctor regularly and know what to do if you want to stop taking any prescription medicine for your health and safety.