The Dangerous Side Effects Of Steroids, Arthritis Drugs, And NSAIDs

Commonly prescribed drugs and their dangerous side effects

A medical investigation in the United States has shown that three times more people die from legal prescription drugs than from illegal narcotic drugs, such as heroin and cocaine. This study does not account for the contra-indications of the drugs, which kill at least 30,000 a year in the U.S.

These are people who take medications, but have conditions (including drug allergies) that would cause these drugs to be dangerous for them. It is nearly impossible to determine how many people are being hospitalized because of contra-indications from drugs, but careful official estimates indicate that they make up about 5 percent of all lying in American and British hospitals today.

Steroids belong to another group of drugs that were formerly used only for extreme, life-threatening conditions. Today, they are used for minor problems such as sunburn, skin eruptions, acne and glandular fever. Patients are rarely aware of the dangers that may arise from taking these drugs. Side effects include high blood pressure, stomach ulcers with possible perforation of the stomach wall (this is how my father died), cramps and dizziness, inhibited growth in children within six weeks of taken the drugs, irregular menstruation, weakening of muscular strength, slowed healing of wounds, vision problems, skin atrophy, allergic shock, loss of libido, decrease in bone density, manic depression, and the emergence of latent diabetes.

Steroids are now handed out, even for babies, at the first sign of inflammation of any kind. But these drugs cannot cure a single condition; all they do is stop the body from responding to an abnormal condition. The new diseases caused by such drugs may require further treatment using even stronger drugs, thus adding more side effects to the ones that have already occurred.

The latest ‘breakthrough’ drugs for arthritis produce such strong side effects that it might be better to live with arthritis than to risk one’s life. The manufacturer of one popular brand was obliged to warn the consumer that this particular drug was very strong and had led to cases of leukemia (cancer of the blood) even after short term use. Additionally, the drug can have 92 side effects including hepatitis, high blood pressure, dizziness and unconsciousness, as well as headaches. The manufacturer advises the attending physician to enlighten his patients about the possible dangers that can arise from taking the drug, particularly if they are over 40 years old, and to use the smallest possible, but still effective, dosage. The manufacturers admit that the drug can cause serious and life-threatening reactions while having no effect on improving the condition of the disease!

NSAIDs, the common name for over a dozen or more non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (including aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen), are used to treat rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. However, for the past few years, these drugs have been given to people for such simple complaints as recurring headaches or inflammation. In return for the pain relief, however, the patient may die as a result of gastric bleeding caused by the extreme toxicity of the drugs. A warning placed on each NSAID prescription says: “Serious gastrointestinal toxicity such as bleeding, ulceration, and perforation can occur at any time, with or without warning symptoms, in patients treated chronically with NSAID therapy.”

If this doesn’t sound like Russian Roulette to you, the death toll from taking these drugs may convince you otherwise. In the U.K., 4,000 people die each year from taking NSAIDS. In the U.S., the fatality figure is up to five times as high as it is in the U.K. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized due to gastric bleeding caused directly by taking NSAIDs. Other side effects include perforation of the colon, colitis, Crohn’s disease, blurred vision, Parkinson’s disease, liver and kidney damage, hepatitis and hypertension.

A 20-year-old acne medicine that millions of American teens are, no doubt, taking every day has been linked to a stunning array of negative psychiatric conditions including suicide, depression, psychosis, violent and aggressive behaviors, mood swings, emotional instability, paranoia and changes in personality. This makes one wonder if any drug, no matter how commonly prescribed, is even remotely safe.

The small print

With the enormous variety of drugs available today, many doctors no longer have the time to study the side effects of each drug they prescribe, and most patients never read the list of side effects that accompanies the drug. Also, few patients read the small printed contra-indications or ask their doctor about the possible dangers of the drugs. Doctors don’t seem to have the time to warn their patients about possible side effects either.

One report on a survey published in a 1996 issue of the British Medical Journal found that less than two-thirds of patients recalled receiving any advice from their doctors on potential side effects. Although the doctor has a moral as well as a legal obligation to inform the patient about the risks of treatment, in most cases this important step is omitted. The drug company is legally protected as long as the side effects and contra-indications are listed. This leaves it up to the patient to decide whether to take a drug.

Read side-effect labels to save your life

Side effects arising from the use of common pharmaceutical drugs can develop into some of the most grotesque symptoms imaginable. The Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS), which can progress into a complication called TENS (toxic epidermal necrolysis), is caused by adverse drug reactions. Before you start taking common prescription drugs, you may need to inform yourself about this often-fatal reaction. The list of drugs that may be problematic includes antiepileptic and anticonvulsant drugs, sulfonamides, ampicillin, allopurinol and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs), as well as some vaccinations (such as anthrax).

The frightening fact about these drugs is that the body’s reaction to them is completely unpredictable. For instance, you may have taken ibuprofen, a popular NSAID, a hundred times, but you can never know for sure whether or when the body will suddenly become hypersensitive to the drug. When your body starts fighting the drug, it will go into an extreme inflammatory response that causes your skin to die and literally burn away. This side effect can occur with any age group, from infants and teens to the elderly. The mortality rate ranges from 25 to 80 percent. Those who survive the ordeal are scarred for life, often to a point of total disfigurement. As the number of people taking these drugs rises, the number of victims increases.

Do you really need to take these drugs?

There is no real need to take any of these drugs. Suppression of symptoms jeopardizes the body’s own healing efforts and only makes matters worse. If you do opt to take a prescription that puts you at risk for SJS or TENS, watch for any signs of an allergic reaction, such as a rash, blisters, a scalding sensation or fever, and discontinue the medication immediately. Don’t wait for your doctor to take you off the medication because your life may be at stake.