Health Matters: When Do Side Effects With Medications Stop Being Normal?


Over the years we have come to trust our doctors above and beyond just about any other occupation in society. After all, when you look into what a doctor earns, it’s comparatively little. Taking into account their years of study, the stressful nature of the work and the long hours, it’s pretty clear – medicine is a vocation as much as a job.

With that said, there are other sectors of the medical industry that have come to be recognised as less trustworthy. We all know about the potential for medication to have side effects. We expect it, and we deal with them. But more and more these days, the pharmaceutical industry is coming under the microscope.

Sadly, a lot of people are finding they don’t like what they see. There are lessons to be learned here, so study deeper into the issues that can crop up. That way, if you suspect that something is wrong in your own treatment, you will see it sooner.

Meet Pauline…

Pauline is a young professional who graduated from college ten years ago. She has been holding down a steady job in the publishing industry, which involves working some long hours. She’s married, with one child. She’d like to see her son and her husband more often, but the job allows her to put food on the table and send her son to a good school.

A few years ago she went to her doctor with stress. He diagnosed her with high blood pressure and put her on a medication which dilates the blood vessels.

Two years later, she went back, this time with digestive discomfort. Her doctor diagnosed Celiac disease and put her on a gluten-free diet.

Did That Help?

It did, somewhat, but Celiac is a tricky condition, and she still had the symptoms. But ask anyone, Celiac or otherwise: if you stop eating gluten you will feel better. So Pauline took it all in her stride. Until last week, anyway. That’s when she got angry and went to among a few other sites.

Why, What Happened?

She passed out at work. Pauline had lost so much weight that she was dangerously malnourished. She was also taking medication to deal with the stomach cramps that she’d been having for the last few years. At her weight, these were making her light-headed. When the doctors ran some blood tests, they found she was no healthier than when they put her on the diet. She didn’t have Celiac disease at all.

What Did She Have?

She had a condition known as Sprue-Like Enteropathy. It is almost identical to Celiac disease. The only difference is that Celiac is triggered by gluten. So when you don’t eat gluten, the symptoms should clear up. Pauline’s did, a bit. Not entirely, though. What was causing her condition was the blood medication her doctor had prescribed her. And that’s why she’s looking to sue.

Sue Her Doctor?

No; her doctor acted in good faith, prescribing a medication that tests showed was effective in lowering blood pressure. But what was not revealed when the drug was brought to market was that it had severe side effects. And the same is true of a number of drugs on the market even today. So she’s suing the company who made the drug, because it shouldn’t ever have been available. Pauline is fictional, but the case is real, and you can find out more about it here –

We all expect side effects when we are on medication – but they should taper off after a while. When the cure turns out to be worse than the illness it is treating, that’s a problem. It’s an important one. One you shouldn’t tolerate. If the initial glitch of adjusting to medication doesn’t wear off, talk to your doctor about it.

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