Making sure you know the details of simvastatin side effects is essential if you are thinking of taking this drug. Simvastatin is a cholesterol reducing drug of the statin family which is used to treat excessive cholesterol and, in children, to combat a condition known as heterozygous hypercholesterolemia in which the body does not remove cholesterol properly. It works by slowing the production of cholesterol in the body. It can be used to reduce the risks of heart attacks, strokes, as well as to treat blood flow issues associated with heart and blood vessel problems. It is prescribed in doses of 5mg to 80mg. The side effects of simvastatin are many, each having its own set of symptoms.
Simvastatin can cause an increased risk of muscle damage resulting from a myopathy (muscle disease) that causes a non-functioning of the muscle fibers. This occurs when a patient is taking higher doses of the medication. The symptoms of this condition consist of muscle cramps, stiffness, spasms, tenderness, and general weakness.
Another, more serious, side effect is the chance of developing rhabdomyolysis, in which muscle proteins are released directly into the blood stream. This can lead to damaged kidneys and, if left untreated, fatal kidney failure. This problem mostly arises due to mixing the drug with other medications which may produce conflicts or increased absorption of the simvastatin into the blood stream. The symptoms include dark-colored urine, muscles pains, weakness, and stiffness.
An onset of cholestatic hepatitis can also occur, which is an obstruction of bile secretion which causes bile to re-enter the blood stream. Symptoms include itching of the skin and jaundice. This condition can eventually lead to hepatic necrosis.
Hepatic cirrhosis (cirrhosis of the liver) is another problem that may arise. This causes a degeneration of the liver cells which are then replaced by scar tissue. Eventually, this will lead to serious liver damage and can be life threatening. Symptoms include fatigue, loss of appetite, jaundice, itching, and a tendency to bruise easily.
Common side effects of simvastatin reported that are not necessarily symptoms of more serious issues include constipation, stomach pain, nausea, headaches, diarrhea, joint pain, and some memory loss. Even if experiencing some of these more common conditions, it is always best to consult a doctor.
Despite the wide range of simvastatin side effects, only rarely does serious damage occur. The best defense is to be aware of the various precautions associated with the taking of this drug. Do not mix it with other medications without consulting a doctor beforehand. Make sure your doctor knows what medications you are currently on so he or she can determine whether simvastatin is appropriate and safe to use. Some particularly troubled areas include antifungal medications, other cholesterol lowering medications, and anticoagulants. Even if mixing a relatively harmless medication with simvastatin, always make sure your doctor monitors the interactions.
You should always get regular liver check-ups when using this drug. With the variety of liver-problems that could happen, and the severity of them, it is important to monitor the liver for any changes.
Some more particular problems have been associated with Asians taking the drug, as well as older people (above 65), people with thyroid disorders or diabetes, and those who drink alcohol regularly. Pregnant mothers should never use this drug, as it will cause harm to the fetus. Breast-feeding mothers should avoid it as well.
If you experience any of the symptoms listed above, you should contact a doctor immediately. If an overdose occurs, the poison control center should be called, or if the patient is unconscious, a hospital.