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Side Effects from Blood Pressure Drugs

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Q. I was on atenolol for high blood pressure and kept complaining to my doctor about fatigue, tiredness, light-headedness and swelling feet and ankles. I couldn’t breathe or walk up a flight of stairs without stopping to catch my breath every two steps.

As a military dependent I see different physicians. My current doctor switched me to propranolol. I am now noticing that my feet and ankles are beginning to swell with this medication also and I have developed asthma. There are days when I can't do anything but sleep.

Are there better drugs or natural approaches to control my blood pressure? I am convinced that these medications have caused me more harm than good!

A. Atenolol and propranolol are both beta blockers. Such drugs are rarely considered appropriate as the first-line treatment for hypertension. They can trigger fatigue and asthma and are not appropriate for people with breathing difficulties. You should not have to suffer symptoms from your blood pressure medicine.

We are sending you our new Guide to Blood Pressure with many natural approaches, including helpful foods, special juices and breathing exercises, as well as the pros and cons of many medications. We are concerned about your swollen feet and ankles and urge you to see a cardiologist who could evaluate this symptom.

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I am taking amlodipine, a blood pressure medicine also, and my legs and ankles started swelling as well. My doctor put me on HCTZ 25mg, a fluid pill to counteract the swelling in my feet and ankles. It's supposed to help with blood pressure too, however, it makes me feel very dehydrated. I have also been noticing some shortness of breath and I already have (well controlled) asthma. I have a new internist now and am going to see him this month to try and figure out a better medicine.

I was taking Atacand for my Blood Pressure and had been taking it for 3yrs., my doctor switched me to Lisinopril. I noticed while taking this drug I started to develop a very dry cough (almost strangling) at times. So I called my doctor and requested that she switch me back to the Atacand. Is that a normal side affect from the Lisinopril?


Lisinopril, or any of the ACE-inhibitors, are notorious for causing a dry cough. I would estimate 5% or so of people I talk to have this side effect. I work in a pharmacy. Usually switching to an ARB (angiotensin receptor blocker) like Atacand is a good choice. The blood pressure should be well controlled, but no cough. The only down side to the ARBs is cost. There are no generic ARBs. So, in my opinion it is best to start with an ACE-inhibitor since it's a lot cheaper and most people do well on them. And, to switch to an ARB if dry cough develops or blood pressure is not controlled.

I have found with 20mg lisinopril I am getting some breathlessness on walking hills, and at this dose, a definite short term memory loss. Do others find this? I would be grateful to know alternate methods to control blood pressure.

My neurologist prescribed propanolol (a beta-blocker) for my non-Parkinson hand tremor. The medicine made it so hard to exercise, I decided I'd rather have shaky hands. I have had this occasionally embarrassing tremor since childhood and I am still looking for a more natural treatment.

I had taken Tenormin for years with no problems. My prescription insurance company kept informing that I could save money with the generic Atenolol, so I switched. Without relating it to the Atenolol, I started awakening every night with chest pains. I went through all the heart tests including cardiac catherization. All tests were negative. I went back on Tenormin, and the chest pains stopped immediately and never returned.

I have been taking atenolol for anxiety w/ symptoms only of a racing heart; not hi BP. I used to be very active but am unusually tired. I thought it was age-related but my twin sister still has her get up and go (we're 54.) Would love to be off this stuff but don't know what else to do. Am also on trazadone to help me sleep and zoloft - would love to get off all of this... Any advice how to handle??

I was on Atenolol to regulate my heart beat. It made me so tired and sleepy all of the time. I read about a new drug, Bystolic and looked up possible side effects. They were far less than other beta blockers. I asked my doctor about it. I am happy to report that after taking it for 3 months, I have a lot more energy, and it seems to be regulating the pulse rate as well as Atenolol did.

I experienced the same symptoms from taking Atenolol but it took about three years for them to develop. As they worsened I told the doctor and he switched me to Cozaar. The symptoms went away immediately and so far I've had no reactions to the Cozaar.

The 3 months i was on atenolol (25mg)for atrial fibrillation I had vertigo, short term memory loss, anxiety, and hearing issue. All except hearing went away when I switched to a different beta blocker.

I have been on Atenolol for several years for atrial fibrillation and suffer swollen legs loss of hearing, anxiety and other symptoms mentioned above, but the cardiologist/internist still insists I take it. What can I say or do to get him to change to another medicine?

I recently went to 20 mg lisinopril and yes, I have noticed a breathlessness when I just go upstairs 1 flight of stairs quickly, I hadn't experienced this before. I can't say about memory loss - my memory hasn't been great anyway.

I take micardis HCT. My feet began to feel numb, swollen, and burning. I have tried Zestoretic: had cough and wheezing, and Benicar and had pain in joint in shoulders. Any advice from you will help.

I have been on atenolol 50 mgs for a little over a year (this time) I am having problems like rapid heart rate extremely cold feet dizziness, fatigue, trouble breathing doctors will not change med, I am ready to throw it out and take my chances. please help me.

I have been on soooooo many blood pressure medicines that I am about to scream. Just to name a few, I have taken Benicar, Tekturna, Marcardis, Diovan, and All of these cased my feet and legs to swell really bad. Marcardis, Diovan & Benicar caused me to gain a lot of weight; get off of these and I would lose the weight.

I'm on two blood pressure pills now Spironolactone and something that starts with a H and my feet are still swollen. My doctor is working with me, but it has been three years and I am tired of the swelling. I need help.

I also have been on several medications all with side effects. Now I am on bystolic--have shortness of breath and short tern memory problems which started on this med. The Dr. said its not a side effect and to see a neurologist. What do you do????

I have a relative that says her BP meds have been changed recently and her side-effects are losing hair and a distended stomach. I have never heard of or does any research show these side-effects for BP meds. Does anyone have any insight?

I have been taking 50mg Noten (Atenol) for over a year now as a treatment for Familial Tremens. Finding that the treatment didn't seem to work that well I went to another doctor and he has put me on Deralin (Propranolol) 10mg up to 4x daily, as needed. He found my blood pressure significantly low. On researching both drugs on the internet I was surprised to find I was being given a high blood pressure medication when I actually have always had BP on the low side, so much so that I sometimes am turned away from donating blood!

For the past year I have exhibited all the symptoms reported by others on this web site : spaced out feeling, lack of concentration,shocking short memory, lethargy, sleepiness all day and definitely depression etc

I haven't taken any of the Deralin yet because I am worried the symptoms will persist. However I do find the shakiness in my hands very debilitating and inhibiting, (and embarrassing!) My mother had this condition too. I am making less and less effort to get 'out & about', socialize etc and at 67 years old am wondering how I can regain my previous 'joie de vivre), energy and love of life..... surely my life is not over yet!! Can someone suggest a another, hopefully natural remedy?

Re Atrial fibrillation.

I have suffered from Lone A-fib for about 10 years. Recently I have been taking magnesium orotate and what a difference!! I have more energy and no signs of heart palpitations. I feel so much better. It is good to check the labels on all packaged foods, including those in jars as many of them contain sulphites (preservative 220) which are known triggers for A-fib. Any additives in the 200s and 600s (monosodium glutamate) are very bad.

Does no one like atenolol? I have taken it for probably 15 years. Like others, I first started tenormin. The pharmacy assured me there was no difference in the generic atenolol. Now 15 years later I just finished a bunch of tests with diagnoses of trapped air in my lungs. Doctors did not tell me what to do about it; I guess this must be caused by taking the atenolol for so long. They did not tell me this, nor did they tell me to get off the atenolol.

I was on atenolol also. after being on it one month, I kept telling my Dr. that I was having trouble breathing. He said it was anxiety. After being on the med for 9 mos. I asked my pharmacist if this med can cause asthma. He said in some people it can because it constricts the lungs. Have been off med for 5 months and now at 43 I am diagnosed with asthma, and anxiety.

If I didn't do my homework, I would have still been on it. Left that doctor....

Thank you, CC; I will check with pharmacist. Perhaps I am getting closer to the conundrum. All these breathing tests, MRI's, CT scans etc. have not helped me all that much, and I am still on atenolol, still having heart pounding, a great number of symptoms, and anxiety to boot. I never got a diagnoses, just a "I think that. . . ." thank you, Peoples Pharmacy, you have given me many leads in this pursuit.

I was taking Lisinopril and had an allergic reaction with swelling and severe itching. The doctor put me on an new medication Amlodipine and I got the gout. I have been taking Indomethacin for about a week and a half and the just went to the doctor. She put me on a new medication for blood pressure called Losartan Hydrochlorothiazide.

I am having a hard time getting over the gout and wonder if the new medication has side effects of the gout. I have had some borderline kidney function test and wonder if the medications for blood pressure may be casing this?


A physician changed me from atenolol to another drug abruptly. Never let any doctor do this. The drug insert plainly tells one to only very gradually make the change under medical supervision. In the emergency room, the ER doctor put me back on atenolol and increased it another 25 mg. Lesson learned: do not go off atenolol abruptly even under doctor's care. I continue on it and do fairly well and try to bring blood pressure lower with diet and not overeating. Am on the slim side anyway.

Hi all, I have been taking Noten (Atenolol) for about 8 years now. Over this period I have developed weight gain, twitching, tingling in my hands and feet, tiredness and depression. I have asked doctors about this only to be told that Noten would not do this. I think Noten IS doing this. anybody else getting this combination of symptoms??


I was on lisinopril 20mg for bout two year. I had a lot to happen to my body while taken that med. Right now my heart rate is up real high at times it get up to 100 beats per min. I had a consistent dry cough. I lost 30 pounds and right now it's hard to gain back. I kept telling my Dr what that med was doing but they wouldn't take me off it.

Finally I went to another Dr and took myself off. This med was harming my body and my bp was still up. I was constantly in the bathroom. Urinating, I couldn't go anywhere that med was draining all the fluid off me. It made me very sick and weak at time and sometime my memory would get so bad. Thank you for your concern.

I was taking a diuretic (moduretics) for many years and 3 months ago I added a calcium inhibitor (Amlodipine) when my BP remained high (stage 1). Recently I started feeling dizzy and hazy like I'm floating plus a funny feeling at the back of the neck. I also developed a dull pain at the pelvis (left side) plus flu symptoms.

Any help? What would be the best BP medicine?

on 25 mg atenolol, yrs later increased to 25 mg 2x day. controls arrhythmia and feel beneficial to hand tremor. what seems to help with hand tremor is B50 once or twice day. helps keep my head steady from tremor. also brewers yeast is beneficial. read Anxious for Nothing by john macarthur for anxiety.

bp went to stage III and been on amlodipine now for almost two months. reduced my dose from 5 mg to 1/2 tablet (2.5 mg) and that is working better. was bringing my bp too low. i am low salt, no HFCS, careful with sugar, and try to eat lightly, organic whenever possible. high blood pressure has now caused stage III kidney disease. I listen to peoples pharmacy every week and am in process of acquiring some more of their books. what an excellent program!!!

I am on nifedipine er(xl)60mg 1 per day. Atenolol 50mg 1 per day. l-thyroxine 175mcg 1 per day. I am 54 years old and have been treated for thyroid problems 38 years and high blood pressure 36 years. I have a chronic dry cough for 10 years now and getting worse by the day. 15 doctors, 4 hospitals, and every test known to men and women the best they can give me is that it is a form of bronchial asthma with airborne allergies. I have been told it is a habit, smokers cough (I quit 6 years ago) and stressed induced. I have even been told to learn to live with it.... I feel it is my BP meds. What do you think... doctors don't think so. PLEASE HELP ME..............

My son (17) was thought to have high blood pressure and was prescribed Lisinopril, 20 mg... to find out that the nurse had used a "child's cuff" for blood pressure on him.... not an adults cuff.... he was found to have normal range 2 months later... but the doctor said to keep taking the Lisinopril... I consulted another doctor and told him what happened. He was given another check up... to find his blood pressure was normal and told him not to continue to take the Lisinopril....

I am wondering if Lisinopril is dangerous to take if you do not have high blood pressure? My son is an athlete (football, tennis & wrestling)... when taking this med he was always so tired... Please help me here!

It's so interesting reading other people's concerns about HBP medications and side effects. I live in a stressful city and have a stress-inducing job. About 3 yrs ago I was put on Atenolol (low dose) and 12.5mg Hydrochlorothyazide (HCT) for pre-hypertension. I took it for a little over a week, I started having distressful dreams and had two very pronounced panic attacks. I stopped taking the Atenolol. Time passed I was still dancing around the pre-hypertension BP numbers - I was put on 5mg Lisinopril about a year ago.

I dislike taking these pills, but I still do. Among other things like an occasional dry cough, I've been experiencing shortness of breath around the 3rd - 4th flight of stairs at the office and I'd blamed myself, I didn't realize until reading this forum that the Lisinopril could be a culprit. Maybe I just need to move away from this environment.

Hi, my 19yr old son has Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathies (with left ventricular hypertrophy) and can no longer work due to severity of his condition. He is on Noten, which seems to be helping, but still gets chest pain/angina and constantly tired with major chest pain after minor exercise. They started him on Coversyl as well as Noten which gave major breathing problems, insomnia and night terrors.

Then started on Tritace and still major breathing/cough. Tried Micardis and it was worse. Tried Norvasc and headaches all day and night but some relief, tried Lercan and headaches worse with quite bad angina. Started dithiazide yesterday and it wasn't any better. We have become so frustrated because nothing seems to be helping and costs heaps going back to Cardiologist and different medicines every few days. Has anyone got any ideas that actually may help??? A very frustrated father that only wants to look after his son! Thank you.

Diagnosed with HPT. Put on 100mgs atenolol as had reaction to Diovan. Also Cardura 4 mgs a day, 2+2. BP is fine after a month but short term memory is shot, depressed, no appetite and don't have the strength to even get out of bed most days let alone exercise. Back cramps under right shoulder blade so bad I can scream and he tells me take Tylenol! Also eye problems with dryness. Been to Doctor several times and he insists not side effect of meds and has more tests scheduled than you can shake a stick at. Wants MRI for Head for memory loss that I never had till I started these meds, already had ekg, chect ex rays full lipid workup etc. Now wants more tests.

Is short term memory loss a side effect, I know cramping is and back pain.
Thank you!!!! (I think I need new doctor)

I am a 62 year old white male, I had a angioplasty with 4 stents 6 years ago.
Lately going up 3 flights of stairs to my apartment, I started getting dizzy and out of breath, I only weigh 180 lbs 5ft 9in tall, as soon as i sat down for 5 min the dizziness and shortness of breadth would go away.

I have been on 10 mg of lisinopril, plus I have been getting some dry cough. I will be seeing my doctor this week to change

I have a side effect that the doctor says he's never heard of, and I really need to know if anyone else has experienced this. About a year ago I was put on a BP med (can't remember the name of it) and after a couple of months I started noticing a strong sort of sickly sweet chemical smell and realized I was emitting it. It was all in my clothes, terrible, I smelled it constantly. Stopped taking the med, smell went away, the doctor then put me on a combination of Lisinopril and Amlodipine.

This was fine for about 7 months, then a week ago I started noticing the same smell. Stopped taking meds and it's taken a week for the smell to go away. I haven't called my doctor yet because I was on a trip and just got back. My suitcase reeked of it.I cannot live with this smell!

I have been on the atenolol for five months my doctor put me on it for hyperactive thyroidism. I have gone to eight doctors this week and have complained to my doctor about so many symptoms I have had on this medication. I started having cramps run though my arms and legs and now I have pain as if my blood is flowing to fast to my feet and hands. I started getting circulation problems on this medication. I am worried every day I am gonna die from my blood being constricted to other parts of my body.

I wish someone could tell me what is going on I have had a lot of tests over this matter and everything seems to be fine other wise. The one thing I have noticed is I have been off of the atenolol for ten days but I noticed my heart rate has been going up and my heart beats are a little over ninety beats per minute. I took not even a half a atenolol today but I'm worried what I should do about tomorrow my doctor told me I can take them as needed. Does anyone know what I should do I am only twenty-nine years old.

I have been on Atacand for about 2 years now but over the last 3 or 4 months I have a constant running nose a cough feel like have flu all the time have taken cold flu medication but get no relief. I do have asthma but has always be well controlled never had anything like this before. I also feel tired all the time plus lost sense of smell this is not me at all, so went on website to see if anyone else had the same and yes I was surprised by the amount that had the same symptoms also had weight gain and bags under eyes, so I will be going to see my doctor.

I have recently found out that I have high blood pressure. My doctor prescribed Attacand 16mg for me. From the third day I noticed that I heard a sound on my right ear. Few days latter I felt the same sound on the other ear as well. The result was that I had a severe lost of hearing. My doctor said it was not attacand responsible for this and he told me to continue taking it. After a month I had a check again and we found out that my hearing loss became more severe. Doctors insist that the medicine is not responsible. But I gave it up because I think it is.

Hi, I am a 44 year old female and have been taking Noten ( Atenolol) for about 10 years, for migraine headaches, which I feel has really helped. I have been feeling very dizzy, tightness in the chest (mainly at night) and also shaky, over the last 4 weeks. I have been to the GP today and she did an ECG which showed my heart rate is 47 BPM, so I have been booked in for more this normal on this medication?...I have not been doing any exercise, so I am not fit.
If anyone has any answers for me, I would be very grateful...Thanks

I was prescribed an oral Tritace Titration Oral Pack 38 for BP and experienced a continual dry cough. I have since been on Atacand 8 mg. for three days and still have this cough. It seems to be increasing. Don't know what to do. I have only been on all medication since 15th Agusut, 2012

My boyfriend has been on atenolol for three month's now and has many of the symptoms I'm reading about here, one other symptom he has is he gets hot flashes shortly after taking the med, all the problem's he is having is from the medication that suppose to be making him better, these doctors know exactly what's going on, they are making money prescribing these drugs, and in return the pharmaceuticals are making millions. You would think with all there so called research they could develop a drug for blood pressure that does not make people so sick, they know damn well what they are doing to everyone, doctors no longer look out for the best interest of there patients, it's all about money! Think about it the sicker you are the more money they make.

I had a rapid onset of AF about 1 month ago , I work in the Mines in Australia and have always been healthy have a strong heart and always perfect BP 120/80. The AF they think was caused by imbalance of my electrolytes due to dehydration. I am now on 25 mg of Noten (Atenolol) till I have another review in 1 month. I have had a few symptoms most notably pronounced heart beat and pulse, high anxiety, and panic attacks all of which I have NEVER experienced before which is very confronting.

I went to the GP and my Pulse was down to 42 BPM. He cut me back to 12.5 mg which helped the pulse (back to 62 BPM) but am still having anxiety attacks and shortness of breath. I am not one to dwell on things but the more I concentrate on the symptoms the more pronounced they become especially when I am lying in bed. I'm sure this medication has great benefits for some but obviously not for others. I cannot wait for a clean bill of health and hopefully return to my usual self. I am only 38.

Dear sir, I am taking one pill of Metolar AM50 daily for control of BP. for last three years. No side effects. For the last 50 days I am taking vertin16, etilaam. 25mg. & Gingkocer daily my ankles & feet get swollen. My Neurologist says this is on account of amplodine (metolar AM) What is the remedy of swelling. Will it stop when my BPV treatment gets completed after another 10days.
regards, mc mehta

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY RESPONSE: Amlodipine can cause swollen legs. Metoprolol (Metolar) usually doesn't. Getting the right blood pressure medicine can be a matter of trial and error.

My mother-in-law and a cousin have naturally high heart rates. Tenormin, brand name only, works for them. But for some reason, the generic of Tenormin does not---like you, it causes chest pain, and does not relieve the high heart rate in them.
But they have no problems with generic forms of other prescriptions that they take.

The pharmacist has said that it may have to do with not only the drug itself, but the additives that make up the brand name pill, versus the generic pill, the combination of all of these.

Hi Damien

I live in Australia also and am on Noten. After a few months on it I am getting breathless lying in bed at night (or lying down anywhere at any time), whether on my back or on my side. When you state that your issues get/got worse, especially at night, do you mean the breathless as well?

Thank you.

I have been reducing my amount of Atenolol starting at 25mg, cutting the pill in half and then finally quarters. Occasionally I will go back to 12.5 mg if my blood pressure shows a rise. Why not try halving yours to 25 mg and see what happens. I'm no MD so you may want to check this out with more knowledgeable people. My belief is it's my body and I will take care of it bet I can, sometimes not completely following doctors orders.

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY RESPONSE: We don't recommend changing the dose of blood pressure medication until you talk it over with your doctor.

Since taking Noten 3 years ago after slight stroke have experienced almost total aversion to food and eating. Just mention of food and whole body reacts. After eating small portion can no longer chew or swallow any more. Drinking Okay. Loss of weight - 2 stone in three years and whole body now stringy and thin. Dropped 2 sizes in clothes. Is it the Noten???

Doctor just shrugs when mentioned. Also he has to use old style blood pressure machine and not new electronic ones as they give false reading. Would this happen to other people and could people be misdiagnosed with high blood pressure to to incorrect machine?

I have been on different bp medicines for 15 years. Now am taking 32 mg of anacand. I just can't take bp medicines. I have back pain, dizziness, sore throat,shortness of breath, gained weight and don't eat that much. My doctor wants to get cholesterol down, but when you can't walk with shortness of breath, what do you do? I do have a pacemaker, but I am so tired and fatigued I need help with an alternative medicine that is natural. Can anyone help?

Hi, I have been on Noten for blood pressure since last year 2012 because ramipril made me develop a constant cough.

Since taking Noten I began to feel as if I could not breathe when lying down at night. It was quite frightening and I thought it was to do with the fact that I have Sleep Apnea and have to wear a mask to assist my breathing when I sleep.

The feeling of being unable to breathe in enough oxygen continued, and progressively worsened. I had to sit upright several times every night for an hour or so, as I felt like I was suffocating. I was becoming progressively so tired that I began to fall asleep about 5 times a day and felt weak all the time. I kept getting fleeting feelings of extreme weakness, slowing down heartbeat, and felt like I was going to pass out.

Then one day my heart stopped beating and everything began to go black like a darkness closing in on me and I had to lean on my shopping trolley and try to not panic as I made my way slowly to the service desk to tell the shop staff I felt like I was going to pass out. My heart only stopped momentarily and it then began to beat very slowly, (it did not palpitate to catch up after it had stopped altogether) and I felt so weak and ill I had to really keep concentrating on breathing normally and not panicking.

I was checked by the Chemist who came from the next shop with a blood pressure machine and she found my heart was beating slower and slower. It had dropped to 61 beats a minute. Taken to hospital in an ambulance, the paramedics monitored my blood pressure and heartbeat and found it was slowing down even more. 60 beats per minute down to 54 by the time we got to the hospital which was only about 7 minutes away.

Once in Emergency I was put on an ECG machine and a blood pressure monitor that kept checking my heart rate and blood pressure etc. Blood tests were done to check my thyroid, if I had diabetes, my kidney function, liver function, and pancreas function. Urine tests were done as well. Everything checked out as healthy.

The doctors were confused as to what caused my collapse and why my heart rate had now slowed to 50 beats per minute.

One doctor they were talking with, noticed that I was taking Noten and said "It's a Beta blocker" and decided that NOTEN was what had caused the problem.

They told me to never take it again and they gave me a bag of saline by IV and after about 2 hours I felt better.

I have been off any Blood pressure medication for 2 weeks while waiting for a 24 hour ECG reading. Now the Doctor has put me on 4mg of Candesarten which I have to take in the evening once a day. NOBODY warned me about any side effects of Noten and I had been totally UNAWARE of the possibility of it causing me breathing problems or slowing down my heart beat. The Hospital told me I had Bradycardia and that what happened to me was a Vasovagal Event.

I have had Rheumatic Fever as a child and have a slightly scarred mitral valve. However I was always very fit and always extremely active until a few years ago when injured knees prevented me from regular walking etc. I do not doubt that the NOTEN was causing the difficulty in breathing every time I lay down, and that my extreme tiredness, weakness and fleeting bouts of dizziness were caused by Noten. This went away after I stopped taking Noten. I also noticed that on NOTEN I was having short term memory problems where I would get up to go to the fridge or another room and then forget what I was going for. I was calling my dogs by the wrong names, even though I knew which name I meant to say.
I was trying to fit the wrong keys into the house door locks.
These are things I normally never do.

People's Pharmacy response: American readers may be puzzled by the drug name, but would recognize its generic name atenolol. Beta blockers like atenolol can interfere with breathing, and also slow heart rate.

You certainly had a frightening experience. We hope that candesartan will be easier to take!

Hi there I've been on amlodipine and mylan indapamide for 2 years, I've been having pins and needles in my hands and heels, I can't sleep because of a lot of pain, my short term memory is also very bad. My doctor say it's not the tablets.

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