Risks and Benefits of Using Appetite Suppressants

Appetite suppressants are drugs that aim to decrease your appetite in order to prevent the absorption of food components that could lead to obesity. These drugs may be natural or synthetic. The most popular appetite suppressants are derived from the hoodia plants. Other natural appetite suppressants are mixtures of plant ingredients such as green tea and seaweed. Synthetic drugs that serve as appetite suppressants include mazindol, phentermine, benzphetamine and diethylpropion. When you ask for a prescription for any of these drugs, the doctor should assess whether or not you have any of the following conditions: pregnancy, breastfeeding, allergies, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, heart disease, seizures or epilepsy, glaucoma, hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), or a history or current intake of alcohol or drugs. These conditions could alter the way your body eliminates the drug and predispose you to side effects.

Risks of Using Appetite Suppressants

The main risks of taking appetite suppressants are their side effects. Since they are similar to the illicit drugs called amphetamines in terms of chemical structure, their side effects are also similar. Appetite suppressants can cause nervousness, palpitations (fast beating of the heart), tremors (shaking of the hands), restlessness, high blood pressure and insomnia. Other undesirable effects include sweating, excessive thirst and constipation. Ironically, while appetite suppressants can cause insomnia, they can also cause drowsiness. When taken without prescription, these drugs could increase your risk for toxicity. Toxic levels due to overdose could lead to confusion, convulsion or seizure, hallucination, and worst, coma (loss of consciousness wherein you could not be awakened even if you are subjected to a painful stimulus).

Benefits of Using Appetite Suppressants

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of many appetite suppressants. If there are risks involved in using them, why were these drugs approved? The justification in the use of appetite suppressants lies in the fact that they can help in losing weight. This is very important today because obesity has already been labeled a global epidemic. Research done on appetite suppressants have shown that if you follow the doctor’s prescriptions, you could lose as much as 5 to 10 percent of your body weight. For instance, if you weigh 150 lb., you could lose about 7.5 to 15 lb. with regular intake of these drugs while simultaneously maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Appetite suppressants are not recommended if you have a body mass index (BMI) below 30. The exception to this principle is if you have a BMI of at least 27 and you have an obesity-related disorder such as diabetes, high blood pressure or metabolic syndrome. You can compute your BMI by dividing your weight in kilograms by the square of your height in meters.

Given these risks and benefits of using appetite suppressants, you might want to think twice about buying and using them. If you really want to lose weight using an appetite suppressant, discuss it with your doctor.



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