Prescription Weight Loss Medicine (cont.)

Over the short term, weight loss due to prescription drugs may reduce a number of health risks in obese individuals. However, there are currently no studies to determine the effects of these medications over the long term.

Are There Risks to Taking These Medications?

When considering the use of long-term weight-loss medication treatment for obesity, the following possible concerns and risks should be discussed with your doctor:

  • Addiction. Currently, all prescription medications to treat obesity except Xenical are "controlled substances." This means that doctors are required to follow certain restrictions when prescribing them since they could be addictive.
  • Developed tolerance. Most people's weight tends to level off after 6 months while taking a weight-loss medication. This leads to a concern that the person has developed a tolerance for the medication. However, it is unclear whether this leveling off is indeed due to a developed tolerance or if the medication has reached its limit in effectiveness.
  • Side effects. Most side effects of weight loss medications are mild (although some can be unpleasant) and usually improve as your body adjusts to the medication. Rarely, serious and even fatal outcomes have been reported.

What Are the Side Effects?

Most appetite suppressants are used as a short-term treatment for people with obesity. Not only do the drugs' effects tend to wear off after a few weeks, but they can also have some unpleasant side effects, including:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Sweating
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia (inability to sleep or stay asleep)
  • Excessive thirst
  • Lightheadedness
  • Drowsiness
  • Stuffy nose
  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Dry mouth

Some side effects with Xenical include, gas with discharge, urgent need to go to the bathroom, oily or fatty stools, an oily discharge and spotting, increased number of bowel movements and the inability to control bowel movements. These side effects are generally mild and temporary, but may be worsened by eating foods that are high in fat. Because Xenical reduces the absorption of some vitamins, people taking Xenical should take a multivitamin at least 2 hours before or after taking the medication.

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