Understanding the Potential Long-Term Risks of Medication Side Effects

Medications are saviors for millions of patients, promoting pain relief, improving medical conditions, and enhancing the quality of life. However, there’s another side to the picture. With more than 14,000 drug recalls in the last decade, it is clear that not all medications help.

Most of them have side effects, whether prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, or complementary therapeutic aids. According to CDC statistics, approximately 1.3 million Americans visit the emergency department each year due to adverse drug events. About 350,000 patients need to be hospitalized due to severe reactions caused by harmless-looking medicines.

You can imagine how major the threat is from the sheer numbers. While many medication side effects are mild and transient, some can have long-term implications. You may end up with severe risks and complications with only a few doses of these culprits. As a consumer, you should be aware of the potential long-term risks because they are less evident than allergic reactions.

We will help you understand these lasting threats that come bundled with the benefits of medication use. 

Chronic Health Conditions

Some medications may contribute to chronic health conditions. According to WebMD, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), diabetes medications, blood pressure medicines, cancer drugs, stimulants, and antidepressants contribute to the risk of heart failure. You should even avoid over-the-counter drugs for headaches and stuffy nose if you are already at risk.

Certain pain or inflammation medicines may also cause gastrointestinal issues and kidney problems after prolonged use. Before starting any medication regimen, consider your existing health condition and discuss the risks and benefits with your healthcare provider. The last thing you want is a new complication while addressing an existing one. 

Impact on an Organ Function

Another grave complication you may face due to medication side effects is an impact on an organ’s function. For example, the liver and kidneys are susceptible because they process medications. Studies show that some medicines can cause severe liver injury. Extended use of large amounts of over-the-counter painkillers such as aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen can damage your kidneys.

Tepezza, the revolutionary drug treatment for Thyroid Eye Disease (TED), has been found to cause hearing loss. The drug was approved by the FDA in 2022, but the FDA has added hearing impairment warnings to its labels in 2023. The Tepezza lawsuit hinges on Horizon Therapeutics’ failure to warn patients about the side effects of the medicine, leading to tinnitus and hearing loss.

TorHoerman Law notes that victims suffering from this long-term side effect should seek compensation from the drug manufacturer for its negligent action. Research has established that 65% of patients undergoing Tepezza therapy have experienced hearing loss. So a large number of Tepezza lawsuits can be expected in the future. 

Cognitive and Psychological Effects

Beyond the physical side effects, some medications may have far-reaching cognitive and psychological effects. Research establishes that elderly patients taking five or more medications are at a higher risk of mild dementia and cognitive impairment. 

Sleeping pills, antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, anti-seizure drugs, nonbenzodiazepine sedatives, and antiparkinson drugs are a few other potential culprits.

Patients and healthcare professionals should consider these side effects, specifically with medications taken over a prolonged period. The last thing you want to deal with is memory loss or anxiety issues when taking a medicine to treat another health condition. Although mental health issues may initially seem less damaging, their long-term impact can be disastrous.

Dependency and Withdrawal

Did you know that many medications can lead to dependency? Stimulants, cocaine, and opioid painkillers are even worse as they may result in addiction sooner rather than later. At some point, you may find yourself craving these medicines, even without a valid reason to take them. The WHO states that drug use disorders can increase morbidity and mortality risks if not treated.

Getting out of the habit is challenging as you may face withdrawal symptoms. These range from mild discomfort to physical issues and severe physical and psychological side effects. As a patient, you should recognize the early signs of dependency and develop strategies to minimize it. 

The Bottom Line

While medications provide effective solutions for managing health conditions, patients must acknowledge the possibility of side effects. Some of these side effects may even have potential long-term risks. Awareness can help you identify high-risk medicines and look for safer alternatives. 

At the same time, you should monitor early red flags and report them to your healthcare provider so that they can adapt treatment plans as needed. A proactive approach can help you make the most of medications without worrying about short-term side effects and long-term risks.