If you are one of the millions of Americans who rely on blood pressure medications to control hypertension, you should be aware of the risks of these medications. Some blood pressure drugs can cause complications that are more dangerous than the conditions they treat—and in some cases, these medications can cause permanent suffering for users.
Diarrhea, Kidney Failure, and Other Benicar® Side Effects
Benicar (olmesartan medoxomil) is one blood pressure medication that appears to be creating more problems than it solves. In 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a report warning patients about the severe intestinal problems caused by long-term Benicar use. Since that time, patients have reported many more hazardous and life-threatening side effects of Benicar, including:
- Uncontrollable diarrhea. The most commonly reported side effect of Benicar was chronic and uncontrollable diarrhea, leading to intestinal inflammation and occasional hospitalization.
- Intestinal distress. In addition to diarrhea, patients were likely to suffer abdominal pain, chest pain, nausea, and vomiting while taking the drug, making it difficult to eat and drink normally.
- Sprue-like enteropathy. The American College of Gastroenterology released a study linking at least 40 cases of sprue-like enteropathy to blood pressure medications like Benicar in 2012. This condition is categorized by severe diarrhea that causes dehydration, malnutrition, and weight loss.
- Villous atrophy. Not only can Benicar cause intestinal pain and discomfort, it can actually damage the walls of the intestines themselves. This condition, called villous atrophy, erodes the lining of the intestinal walls, which is responsible for absorbing nutrients from food and vitamins. This can make it much more difficult for patients to stay healthy, and leads to malnourishment and compromised immune systems.
- Extreme weight loss. Patients taking Benicar have suffered significant weight loss—in some cases, over one hundred pounds or more of body weight—due to digestive issues.
- Celiac disease. Chronic gluten intolerance known as celiac disease may result from long-term use of Benicar due to irreparable damage to the digestive tract.
- Fetal injury. Benicar carries the FDA’s strongest warning label (the black box warning) due to its known risks to a developing fetus. The FDA warn that pregnant women should not take Benicar and women who become pregnant should discontinue the drug immediately due to the risk of injury or death to an unborn child.
- Kidney failure. Benicar can place a strain on the kidney and may lead to acute kidney failure, especially for elderly patients, those with diabetes, people who have heart conditions, and those who take NSAIDs regularly.
- Impaired organ function. Some patients have reported irregular heartbeat or liver impairment after taking Benicar.
- Allergy symptoms. Patients have reported a number of side effects that present as allergy symptoms, including itching or rashes on the skin. In some cases, patients have suffered a rapid swelling or irritation of the skin (angioedema) that has the potential to obstruct breathing if the face, nose, and throat are affected.
- Flu-like symptoms. Even in cases where severe complications do not occur, the makers of Benicar have warned against less serious side effects including muscle weakness, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and back, joint or muscle pain. Patients have also reported an increase in upper respiratory conditions, such as bronchitis and sinus infections.
Perhaps the most worrying thing about the side effects of Benicar is the tendency for the symptoms to be mistaken for less harmful conditions. Gastrointestinal issues may arise for a number of different reasons and patients may be misdiagnosed with food poisoning, celiac disease, lactose intolerance, and other known gastric conditions before medication side effects are considered. Patients who are suffering from villous atrophy and sprue-like enteropathy may not notice symptoms for several years after taking Benicar, causing difficulty maintaining body weight and health much later in life.