People who suffer from weight problems would like to believe that there is a simple, easy solution to their situation. A quick fix of some kind that will help them lose weight rapidly and without any effort. And there is a multi-billion dollar industry that revolves around getting people to believe promises of results that are qualified with fine print stating that the statements they are making haven’t been evaluated by the FDA (US Food & Drug Administration). One of the largest areas of the industry is diet pills. Not only can they cause harmful side effects, but they can become both physically and emotionally addictive.
One of the most dangerous aspects of diet pills is that they are not required by law to be tested by the FDA before they are released to the public. However, the FDA will act to remove a product from the market once it has been shown to be dangerous. This happened in 2003 when the FDA banned products containing ephedrine (ephedra) after they were suspected of being at least partly responsible for the death of a prominent athlete. Secondly, these pills can be purchased over the counter as well as by prescription. It’s up to the buyer to make sure he understands and uses the pills as they were intended. However, some people who are trying to “fix” themselves and their weight problems can be inclined to overdose on diet pills in order to try to speed up the weight loss process even more.
The pills work in different ways. Many are appetite suppressants with active ingredients like phenylpropanolamine or caffeine. Many of them are supposed to increase the rate of your metabolism and at the same time they should help in controlling the appetite. Others claim to block the body’s ability to absorb fat. Others even claim to give the same results of a bariatric gastric banding surgery without the operation. These pills expand in the stomach to create a feeling of satiety. Last, but not least, some diet pills are based on the process of eliminating waste or fluid from the body. Many include some form of diuretic or laxative.
Diet pills can be addictive and can also have harmful side effects even when they are taken according to the doctor’s directions. If you have any health problems, consult your physician before taking any kind of diet pill. Be sure that you follow the directions and be sure that you’re aware of possible side effects. Stop taking the pills immediately if you experience any of them. Some known side effects of diet pills include:
- anxiety or nervousness,
- irritability, insomnia and a feeling of restlessness or hyperactivity,
- high blood pressure,
- tightness in the chest,
- heart palpitations,
- heart attack,
- stroke or congestive heart failure,
- digestive tract problems like vomiting, diarrhea, constipation or other stomach pain,
- dry mouth,
- blurred vision,
- profuse sweating,
- hair loss,
- menstrual cycle and sex drive disturbances and
- urinary tract problems.
In the case of overdose, users can experience tremors or convulsions, confusion or hallucinations, breathing problems, renal failure or heart attack.
As you can see, diet pills need to be taken with caution due to all of the physical risks. But there are emotional risks too. Often those trying to lose weight may start to feel emotionally dependent on the pills. They may attribute their initial success to diet pills only, forgetting any diet modifications, exercise or other lifestyle changes that may have been the true reason for the weight loss. People will often ‘pill hop’, trying one new pill after the other, looking for the magic cure that will let them continue to eat whatever they want but still lose weight. However, only a balanced, sensible diet combined with exercise has been proven to keep weight off over any amount of time. And no pill will cause the lifestyle and emotional changes needed to stop overeating and start losing weight.