A few weeks ago, my doctor prescribed me mitrazapine for appetite problems and insomnia. As always, I made a point of looking over the list of potential side effects and interactions. Most of the side effects were pretty run-of-the-mill: headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness. Then I noticed a very odd item on the list: “spontaneous orgasm.” Seriously? Apparently, many prescription drugs can actually cause people to have orgasms out of the blue, with no physical stimulation.
Mitrazapine isn’t the only drug with incredibly odd side effects. Here are just a few of the oddest side effects of prescription medications.
1. Rainbow Pee
Perhaps the drugs with this odd side effect should also list “heart attack” as a side effect, since people who aren’t expecting purple urine might have exactly this reaction. Antibiotics like Flagyl can cause your urine to turn black, while the obsolete laxative phenolphthalein can make you pee purple. Elavil, an antidepressant, makes pee green, while the popular anti-nausea drug Phenergan makes it 2000 Flushes Blue. The antibiotic metronidazole turns your urine brown, Ex-Lax will make it red, and Coumadin will turn it orange. If you take prescription drugs routinely, you can end up peeing a whole rainbow.
2. Seeing Pink Elephants
You probably already know that strong prescription painkillers can cause hallucinations, but did you know that many unlikely medications can also cause this frightening problem? Seroquel, used to treat depression, can cause hallucinations, as can drugs used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. The antiviral drug amantadine, used to treat the flu, can have you seeing purple monkeys in no time, as can the appetite suppressant diethylpropion. Even innocent Tylenol (acetominophen) can trigger hallucinations– and other odd side effects– when coupled with the opiod pentazocine. Be sure to tell your doctor ASAP if you start having conversations with tiny blue aliens; hallucinations are regarded as a serious side effect.
3. Compulsive Gambling
Ever woken up one morning with a sudden, uncontrollable urge to gamble? Many people taking the Parkinson’s medication Mirapex did just that– and blew their entire life savings because of this odd side effect. Over two hundred people have pressed charges against the makers of Mirapex for not informing them that the drug can trigger compulsive urges, including the sudden desire to gamble and engage in excessive casual sex. One man even scored a settlement of $8.2 million because, as a grand jury determined, the medication caused him to suffer from extreme compulsive gambling.
4. Loss of Fingerprints
This isn’t science fiction– it is actually possible to completely erase your fingerprints. Xeloda, a drug used in cancer treatment, can eliminate your fingerprints as a rare and unusual side effect. This problem is related to hand and foot syndrome, which causes redness, dryness and tingling in the hands and feet. When it becomes serious, this side effect leads to peeling and blistering in the hands and feet, possibly leading to the eventual, complete loss of fingerprints. In one case, a man was denied entry to the U.S. simply because he didn’t have fingerprints. Although it may sound like a criminal’s dream, it can be a nightmare to lose this modern method of identification.