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Medication Side Effects

Compassionate, considerate pharmacotherapy

Medications can be a critical component of effective care. Regardless of the severity of your condition, medications can, at a minimum, provide relief and, at most, be life-saving. Not everyone may wish to pursue drug therapy, but we believe in the importance of prioritizing nonsurgical options whenever possible. We also understand that not every medication is going to be right for you based on your overall health.

At HCA Florida Brandon Hospital, these types of decisions drive our care practices as we assess your condition and implement treatments that work for your medical and personal needs. Our emphasis is always on healing, comfort and long-term health and wellness improvement.

Side effects of medications we use

We use medications for a wide range of conditions. As with many types of treatment, there are potential side effects and special precautions that need to be taken. If you begin pharmacotherapy and experience severe side effects, such as fever, rash/hives, difficulty breathing, chest tightening or swelling of the lips/face, report them immediately to your care team. Medication can be a serious consideration, so we encourage you to discuss any questions you may have with your doctor.


Antibiotics are used to treat certain bacterial infections to prevent them from multiplying and spreading further throughout your body. They are not used to treat viral infections, such as colds or flu, but are most commonly used to treat strep throat, pneumonia, cellulitis, urinary tract infections, pink eye, Lyme disease and E. coli. The key with antibiotics is that you must finish the full course of treatment for maximum efficacy. Side effects that can occur, particularly if you don’t take them as directed, can include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Irritation of the mouth and throat
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Common antibiotics include:

  • Bactrim
  • Levaquin
  • Vancomycin
  • Zosyn

Blood thinners

Blood thinners inhibit blood clots from forming or growing in your body. If you have congenital heart abnormalities, atrial fibrillation or deep vein thrombosis, they can be crucial for preventing serious health issues like heart attack, stroke and vascular blockages. Additionally, blood thinners can be prescribed after a surgical procedure to mitigate the risk of postoperative clotting. As blood thinners can have far-reaching effects on your body’s internal processes and interactions with other medications, it is important to be fully transparent with any healthcare worker if you are taking them. Side effects to be aware of while taking blood thinners can include:

  • Bruising
  • Bleeding of the nose and gums
  • Pain
  • Swelling

Examples of blood thinners we may prescribe you include:

  • Aspirin
  • Coumadin
  • Eliquis
  • Lovenox
  • Pradaxa
  • Xarelto

Cholesterol medications

These types of medications are used to decrease the amount of cholesterol produced in your body. Lifestyle alterations, such as a leaner diet and increased exercise, are typically the first plan of attack for serious weight loss and heightened cholesterol issues. However, in some cases, medication is required. Excess cholesterol builds in your arteries and increases your risk for stroke and heart disease, so pharmacological intervention is necessary when your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol reaches concerning levels. When taking cholesterol medications, following your doctor’s supplemental diet and exercise regimen is important. If you become pregnant, stop taking them immediately and call your doctor as soon as possible. Side effects to look out for include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Gas
  • Indigestion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle pain
  • Rash

Cholesterol medications we prescribe include:

  • Lipitor
  • Pravastatin
  • Zocor

Heart and blood pressure medications

Medications for treating heart issues and elevated blood pressure are typically prescribed when you are experiencing heart failure or hypertension. These medications aim to reduce blood pressure and relieve stress on your heart. High blood pressure puts an unsafe amount of blood-caused force against your arterial wall and can lead to stroke and heart disease if left untreated. Heart failure, on the other hand, leads to your heart not pumping enough blood, which can have extremely serious on your body’s overall function. Given the serious nature of cardiac medications, it is important for you to continue to take them as directed and not to stop taking them without the consent of your physician. Routine side effects of medications for cardiovascular complications include:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Weakness

Examples of these kinds of medications include:

  • Coreg
  • Lasix
  • Lisinopril
  • Norvasc
  • Valsartan

Mental and emotional medications

Mental health is just as important as physical health, and sometimes medication can be necessary to maintain a satisfying level of daily mental health and wellness. Your brain is an intricate control center for your body, and these types of medications can either decrease or increase one of several nerve transmissions so that you can live comfortably, free of distress.

The most important thing to know about these medications is that they are, historically, not quick fixes. Unless they are being used to treat unexpected events like panic attacks, they require time to get used to your body and can take weeks before becoming fully effective. Once you have experienced their effects, they can become habit-forming, so it is important to inform your doctor of any emotional or behavioral changes you experience. More than that, these medications affect your brain chemistry and can carry serious side effects. However, some of the more expected side effects that are not a cause for immediate concern may include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth

Examples of both acute and long-term mental health medications include:

  • Ambien
  • Antidepressants
  • Ativan
  • Klonopin
  • Xanax

Pain medications

Pain medications encompass a wide spectrum of uses, with the ability to treat common aches and pains as well as more serious musculoskeletal issues. Whichever the use, their primary purpose is to reduce inflammation in your body. Pain medications can affect your digestive system if not taken properly, so always be sure to take them with food. With higher-strength medications for more chronic, painful conditions, taking them strictly as directed is critical, as they can become habit-forming. Additionally, if you are taking any other medications, make sure to know the interactions with your pain medication, as that can determine which medication you ultimately take. Side effects of pain medications can include:

  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting

Some of the more commonplace pain medications, including both over-the-counter and prescription options, include:

  • Motrin
  • Norco
  • Percocet
  • Tylenol
  • Ultram

Pulmonary medications

Pulmonary medications are used to treat breathing issues by dilating the epithelial cells that line your lungs. The primary objective is to increase airflow to your lungs, so you can comfortably be as active as you wish. Typical conditions that may require treatment include asthma, bronchospasm, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema. This class of medications includes inhalers for both daily or as-needed use. With regards to inhalers, it is important to know that in some cases, certain ones are needed every day, even when you are not presenting symptoms. It is also important to know that pulmonary medications can cause insomnia. Additional side effects to be aware of include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Examples of medications for your lungs include:

  • Advair
  • Brovana
  • Pulmicort
  • Ventolin

Stomach and digestion medications

Your digestive system is the epicenter of processing food and nutrients for your body, among other functions. Irritants to your digestive system can cause stomach pain, chronic discomfort and difficulties with certain foods, so medications can be beneficial to both prevent and eliminate these issues. The main goal of stomach medications is to facilitate the movement of your digestive tract, while reducing rampant acidity. While most of these medications are standard, over-the-counter remedies, they still have the potential for negative reactions with your body, particularly if you are taking certain additional medications. Report to a doctor immediately if you take digestive medications and experience severe cramping, fever, headache, vomiting or yellowing of the skin. More common side effects can include:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Flatulence
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Some of the more general medications used to treat stomach issues include:

  • Pepcid
  • Prevacid
  • Protonix
  • Stool softeners

Thyroid and diabetes medications

Your thyroid gland regulates hormone production. Located in front of your neck, this gland makes two hormones that control the rate that your body creates energy from fat and carbohydrates. If your thyroid becomes inhibited, it can lead to thyroid diseases like hyperthyroidism, which can then lead to low blood sugar and additional health concerns. Conversely, hyperthyroidism can also lead to elevated blood sugar from dropping insulin levels, which can, in turn, lead to diabetes. As such, these medications are used to either inhibit or stimulate hormonal activity. Before being administered, however, regular lab and blood sugar tests are required to make sure they are right for you. If you do begin taking thyroid or diabetes medications, some side effects can include:

  • Changes in the menstrual cycle
  • Low blood sugar
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss or gain

Some of the medications we use to combat these issues include:

  • Glucophage
  • Glyburide
  • Insulin
  • Synthroid