According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from the years 2004-2013, diet pills sent about 23,000 people to the ER annually. And of those ER visits, 2,000 patients had to be hospitalized.
Serious health issues like heart palpitations, choking, and chest pains are just a few of the reasons patients chose to seek medical attention after consuming dietary supplements. But the industry still remains highly unregulated.
If you have questions about how diet pills affect your body or whether they truly work, keep reading along. We’ll cover all the bases here.
What Are Diet Pills?
Many manufacturers make claims that are too good to be true. For instance, most say that you can lose large sums of weight without exercise.
Not only is it highly likely that the promises of weight loss as a result of taking dietary supplements aren’t realistic, but the pills are also usually dangerous. This is because weight loss products don’t go through a review or approval process by the FDA prior to becoming available for purchase.
And while there are many herbal and natural choices for dietary supplements on the market, we aren’t able to truly say whether a product is safe because of practices like these.
Diet pills are used to promote weight loss with the majority fitting into one of two categories. They work within your body to either increase your metabolism or suppress your appetite.
How Are They Taken?
Just as the name implies, diet pills are typically taken in pill form with a beverage.
The question of whether or not you should take them with food depends on the specific pill you’re taking. However, as a general rule of thumb, you should take them on an empty stomach unless the instructions specify something different.
The reason is, when medication is taken on an empty stomach, you don’t have to worry about the food that’s in your stomach causing problems with the way your body absorbs the pill.
Who Takes Them?
People of all ages and ethnicities take diet pills.
However, diet pill abuse and other unhealthy methods of weight management are more prevalent in young, female adults and adolescents. It’s also highly common in individuals who struggle with weight loss, body image issues, and eating disorders.
That said, addiction can occur in people who are chasing the stimulant properties of the pills as well.
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A Brief History of Diet Pills
During World War II, soldiers took amphetamines to stay alert. It was learned that a side effect of amphetamines was a suppressed appetite, which caused this ingredient to make its way into the formation of diet pills.
By the 1960s, doctors stopped prescribing amphetamines for weight loss because they became highly addictive.
Diet pills didn’t truly become household items until the 1970s and ’80s when people became more health conscious. It was also around this time that Weight Watchers, Jazzercise, and fitness experts like Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons became popular.
These days, more dietary supplements contain natural, plant-based ingredients for health-conscious consumers who are also concerned with safety.
Consequences of Diet Pill Abuse
The effect that dietary supplements have on your body depends on the active ingredients used in it. For instance, some diet pills contain caffeine which can increase thermogenesis. This the is heat production in your body that gives a boost to your metabolism and burns fat.
But you may find another pill where garcinia cambogia extract is the active ingredient. This works by increasing the serotonin levels in your brain to make you less hungry.
Effects on the Mind and Body
It can sometimes be difficult to determine how your body may react to diet pills without knowing exactly what’s in the supplement you’re taking. In general, these are some mind and body effects that can come from using them:
- Increased blood pressure
- Dry mouth
- Psychological symptoms like anxiety, depression, and hallucinations
- Rapid weight loss
- Mood swings
- Rapid heart rate
These side effects will progress with continued use or even abuse of diet pills.
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Short-Term and Long-Term Health Effects
Some dangerous short and long-term side effects you can experience after long-term use or abuse of diet pills are:
- Physical dependence
- Electrolyte disorders and dehydration
- Chronic constipation
- Abusing other substances
- Renal failure
- Death from overdose or constant abuse
If you or a loved one is struggling with diet pill addiction, it’s important to begin treatment right away to prevent permanent damage.
Using Diet Pills With Other Drugs
Drug interactions can change the effectiveness of a medication or supplement. And this can often expose you to some serious side effects. Diet pills, unfortunately, aren’t much different.
When you take diet pills with alcohol, you are exposing your body to two different types of stimulants.
The stimulants in diet pills can increase your heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure, while the stimulants in alcohol can give you slower reflexes, make you feel drowsy and thin your blood out.
Together, both substances confuse your body and can cause serious liver damage, increase your risk of bleeding, and cause panic attacks.
It’s common for people who take antidepressants to also gain weight. And as a result, many patients turn to diet pills to manage this side effect.
But doing so is causing them much more harm than good.
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While antidepressants work with the chemicals in your brain to produce more positive moods, mixing them with diet pills can have adverse mental and emotional effects such as increased depression, hallucinations, and severe mood swings.
If you take cough and cold medications with dietary supplements, you can rapidly raise both your heart rate and blood pressure.
This rapid increase can cause serious issues such as stroke, heart attack, heart failure, and aneurysm. The chances are increased even more in people who are diabetic or have heart conditions.
Treating Diet Pill Addiction
When trying to reach your goal weight, diet pills may seem like a quick and easy fix, but remember there are always safer options. Be sure to set realistic weight loss goals and to always speak with your doctor before trying a new supplement.
And if you need more information about treatment and dependency on this or another type of drug, you can always contact us for help.