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Commercials with Reminders That Drugs Can Have Serious Side Effects Saved His Life

Commercials with Reminders That Drugs Can Have Serious Side ...

Q. I think I have worn out several remote controls hitting the mute button on many loud drug commercials.  But I have to say I am alive today because of hearing them.

I was given a new blood pressure medicine. Within an hour of taking the pill, it was affecting my speech. I called the pharmacy to see if it could be the drug and was told to call 911 immediately. I could not finish talking to the 911 operator since I was gasping for air as my throat was closing down.

If it had not been for continually hearing long lists of side effects recited on the commercials, I might have waited too long to make that call.

A. Thank you for sharing your scary experience. We can all use the reminder that drugs may have serious side effects that need emergency action.

Certain blood pressure medicines (ACE inhibitors such as captopril, lisinopril or ramipril for example) can cause a sudden serious swelling of lips, tongue and throat. This angioedema requires immediate medical attention.

KF relates this experience: “I have taken Diovan for almost ten years with no side effects. Six months ago I was diagnosed with angioedema (face and lips swelling plus shortness of breath). I stopped taking all meds and vitamins, still had the problem. I took HCTZ for a few weeks, but my feet and ankles swelled and BP went to 140/90. I stopped all meds again and went to an allergist. I was diagnosed with hives along with angioedema. Per allergist having angioedema and hives, better to have both. Maybe I’ll never really know what causes this. I’m back on Diovan and still have the problem. I keep Benadryl lotion and pills close by.”

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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