Formally known as hypertension, high blood pressure (BP) is a condition that reflects the force of the blood against the walls of the arteries. Left untreated, hypertension can lead to heart disease and other coronary concerns. To help control blood pressure, a physician may prescribe one or more medications. Diuretics, calcium channel blockers, angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors can be used. Sometimes side effects from prescriptions are normal, but there are times when a call to the doctor is in order.
1. Increased urination
For people on diuretics, sometimes referred to as water pills, increased urination is common. Diuretics are designed to help flush excess water and salt out of the body. So, more trips to the bathroom aren’t exactly strange. However, a common result of increased urination can be lower potassium levels. The physician can request bloodwork to check potassium levels and may recommend switching to an alternative diuretic if levels are low.
Almost every major category of blood pressure medication has the potential to cause dizziness as a side effect. While considered normal, don’t be afraid to speak up if dizziness severely impacts quality of life.
3. Feeling tired
Like dizziness, experiencing tiredness or fatigue after beginning blood pressure medication can be a common side effect. Rather than occasionally feeling sleepy, fatigue is characterized as a constant state of tiredness. As a result, people may feel as if there is not enough energy to engage in routine activities. Opting to get more rest might not be enough to correct the problem. Again, if fatigue impacts quality of life, consider speaking with a physician, as adjusting medications could fix the issue.
The occasional headache isn’t strange. However, similar to the other side effects listed above, headache is a common complaint for patients who experience a physical reaction to taking BP medications. Depending on the severity of the headaches, as well as frequency, consider speaking with a physician.
Remember that side effects can vary widely depending on the category of hypertension medications prescribed and the specific type of drug a patient takes. However, some side effects are a warning alarm that things aren’t right and a trip to the doctor is urgently needed. Sudden vision changes, eye pain, severe rash, irregular heartbeats, and pain in the abdomen or chest are not normal. Unexplained swelling in the face and body or tongue, and difficulty breathing or swallowing require immediate medical attention.
When to speak up
Taking blood pressure medication as prescribed is important for controlling the condition. However, sometimes side effects may occur. Even if a person is experiencing common side effects like headache or fatigue, a call to the doctor is in order if the quality of life is impacted. A physician can work with the patient to find alternative medications that control blood pressure without unwanted side effects.