Which side effects are most often searched on Google?

Julie Weber Trending Topics

You know that moment when you start typing in the Google search bar and it automatically completes what you were thinking? A feature liked by some, but bothers others. Here at the Missouri Poison Center, we put Google to the test to find out the most common drug-related questions that people are searching.

One of our search terms was “side effects of…” Then we let Google fill in the rest. Check out our responses to the top ten results.

Gabapentin:

The most common side effects of gabapentin are: 

  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • clumsiness
  • upset stomach
  • fatigue

This medication is sometimes called by its brand name, Neurontin®. Another similar medication is pregabalin, or Lyrica®. These medications are used to treat nerve pain, restless leg syndrome, alcohol use disorder, seizures, fibromyalgia, migraine prevention, itching, anxiety, hot flashes, and more. Because of the many uses, there are a lot of people taking gabapentin and pregabalin.

When starting the medicine, taking the first dose at bedtime can help with the side effects of drowsiness and dizziness. There are also extended release formulations to reduce the number of doses throughout the day. These should be taken with meals and do not crush or chew the tablets.

Zoloft® (Sertraline):

The most common side effects of Zoloft (Sertraline) are: 

  • insomnia
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • drowsiness
  • upset stomach
  • diarrhea
  • dry mouth

Sertraline is part of a drug class called the SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors). It is commonly prescribed for depression, anxiety, PTSD, and OCD. It can be given in the morning or the evening (with or without food), but stick to the same schedule daily as prescribed. Sometimes, patients are given an oral solution of sertraline. This must be diluted before use, otherwise it can cause temporary numbing of the mouth/tongue.

If someone has been on sertraline for more than 3 weeks, do not suddenly stop taking it. Talk with a doctor about discontinuing (stopping) the medicine slowly, gradually decreasing the dose over 2-4 weeks. Suddenly stopping the medicine can cause withdrawal symptoms.

Metformin:

The most common side effects of metformin are: 

  • diarrhea
  • upset stomach
  • vomiting
  • flatulence (gas)

Metformin is one of the most common medications prescribed. It is used for diabetes, obesity, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). To help reduce the side effects, take with a meal and at the same time(s) each day.

Long-term use of metformin can cause vitamin B12 deficiency. Your doctor should monitor your B12 level and may prescribe a supplement if needed. Rarely, metformin causes lactic acidosis, a condition that causes too much acid in the body. Factors that increase the risk include kidney problems, alcohol use, elderly age, liver problems, and heart failure.

CBD Oil:

The most common side effects of CBD oil are: 

  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • nausea
  • weakness
  • slight decrease in blood pressure

CBD oil has become very popular with many people. Some reported (not proven) uses include seizures, neuropathic pain, Parkinson’s disease, depression, anxiety, and more. There is only one FDA approved formulation for certain epilepsies called Epidiolex®. The other versions are NOT regulated by the FDA; they are considered a dietary supplement. If separated correctly, it does not contain THC (the psychoactive component of marijuana); therefore, it will not make you high. If you are considering using CBD oil, talk with your doctor and choose formulations only from reputable sources.

Prednisone:

The most common side effects of prednisone are: 

  • restlessness
  • nervousness
  • hyperactivity
  • increased appetite
  • indigestion

Prednisone is a commonly prescribed steroid for many health issues such as allergic reactions, skin disorders, lung problems, lupus, Crohn’s disease and more. The side effects of short-term use are different compared to those taking steroids for a prolonged period of time. Long-term steroid use can cause weight gain, fluid retention, increased blood glucose, infection risk, and increased blood pressure. Tapering the dose of steroids is recommended, unless therapy was very short (less than 7-10 days).

Atorvastatin (Lipitor®):

The most common side effects of atorvastatin are: 

  • diarrhea
  • upset stomach
  • muscle aches
  • joint pain
  • insomnia
  • inflammation of the nasal passages

This medicine is part of a very common class of drugs called the “statins” because they all end in -statin. It is used to treat high cholesterol. It can be given with or without food, but oddly enough, there is a potential interaction with grapefruit juice. Grapefruit juice can increase in the amount of atorvastatin in the body – this is only after drinking large quantities. Other citrus juices do not have this interaction.

Talk to your doctor right away if you have muscle aches while taking the medicine. You might need a blood test to determine next steps for your treatment.

Adderall® (Dextroamphetamine & Amphetamine):

The most common side effects of Adderall are: 

  • increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • heart palpitations
  • insomnia
  • decreased appetite
  • dry mouth
  • headaches
  • anxiety
  • dizziness
  • agitation

Adderall is a commonly prescribed amphetamine for ADHD. There are many types of amphetamines, this one contains a mixture of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine in specific amounts. It is available in immediate and extended-release formulations.

Take right after you wake up in the morning, and to prevent insomnia, avoid giving doses in the evening. It can be given with or without food. Sometimes eating before or right after the dose can help since the patient might not feel like eating once the drug starts to take effect. Do not crush or chew the extended-release formulations. Extended-release beads can be sprinkled on applesauce, but consume immediately and do not chew.

Plan B® (Levonorgestrel):

The most common side effects of Plan B are: 

  • fatigue
  • nausea
  • abdominal pain
  • vomiting
  • changes in period (menses)
  • headache
  • loss of energy

Plan B One Step® is just one of many brands of the hormonal emergency contraceptive called levonorgestrel. It is used to lower the chance of pregnancy after unprotected sex (most effective within 72 hours). If vomiting occurs within 2 hours after taking, consider repeating the dose. If side effects do not improve, talk with your doctor. It is not meant for regular (or routine) use to prevent pregnancy.

Lexapro® (Escitalopram):

The most common side effects of Lexapro (escitalopram) are: 

  • headache
  • insomnia
  • drowsiness
  • upset stomach
  • diarrhea
  • increased sweating
  • loss of energy
  • decreased sex drive

Escitalopram is another example of an SSRI mentioned above (similar to sertraline). It is mostly used for depression and anxiety. It can be given in the morning or the evening, with or without food. To help lower the risk for side effects when the medicine is started, use a low dose and increase gradually as directed by your doctor.

Melatonin:

The most common side effects of melatonin are: 

  • daytime drowsiness
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • bed wetting
  • nightmares
  • short term feelings of depression.

Melatonin is available over-the-counter as a dietary supplement, but we recommend you treat it like a medicine and talk to your doctor if you are thinking about using it. If your doctor prescribes melatonin for someone in your family, find a product from a reputable supplier as best as you can determine, and stick with it if it works without side effects. Do not brand-hop or change suppliers without a good reason. Keep it locked up and away from curious children; accidental melatonin exposures are some of the most common calls to the Missouri Poison Center.

If you have questions about any medication side effects, call the Missouri Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.  The poison center is open all day, every day for poisoning emergencies and questions.

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