From cancer to brain damage – rare side-effects of everyday medicines we happily cast aside


IF you are concerned about having the Covid jab, peace of mind might come from knowing how many risks we take every day with common medicines.

Yesterday we told how the under-30s are to be offered other jabs as it emerged there is a 0.000095 per cent chance of a blood clot from the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

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Many of our everyday medicines have very rare side-effects

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Many of our everyday medicines have very rare side-effectsCredit: Getty

And writing for The Sun, Health Secretary Matt Hancock insisted the chances of getting blood clots from the jab are minuscule.

He said: “The safety system that we have around this vaccine is so sensitive that it can pick up events that are four in a million. I’m told this is about the equivalent risk of taking a long-haul flight.”

A rummage through the medicine ­cabinet shows everyday remedies have just as severe rare side-effects.

From painkillers to cough syrup, we check the labels of these medical staples.

There is a 0.000095 per cent chance of a blood clot from the AstraZeneca vaccine

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There is a 0.000095 per cent chance of a blood clot from the AstraZeneca vaccineCredit: Splash

Penicillin: Can cause anaphylactic shock

ABOUT half of all antibiotics prescribed in the UK are penicillins, according to a 2018 study in the Journal Of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.

Penicillin commonly causes vomiting and rashes, but in some cases it can induce anaphylactic shock

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Penicillin commonly causes vomiting and rashes, but in some cases it can induce anaphylactic shockCredit: Alamy

Possible side-effects:

Common:

  • Diarrhoea/vomiting
  • Skin rash
  • Breathing difficulties

Infrequent:

  • Throat swelling
  • Hives/fever
  • Black Hairy Tongue

Rare:

  • Anaphylactic shock
  • Stevens-Johnson  Syndrome, which causes full body blisters.
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Aspirin: Can cause kidney failure

AROUND one billion people worldwide take aspirin, according to The Lancet.

Kidney failure and strokes are severe side-effects of aspirin

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Kidney failure and strokes are severe side-effects of aspirinCredit: PA

Possible side-effects:

Common:

  • Indigestion Heartburn
  • Vomiting

Infrequent: N/A

Rare:

  • Anaphylactic shock
  • Asthma/hives
  • Inflammation of blood vessels
  • Kidney failure/stroke
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Spontaneous bleeding cause by low platelet count

Cough syrup: Can cause brain damage

COUGH, cold and sore throat remedies generated £344million of sales in the UK in 2020, according to Statistica.

Cough syrup has been linked to low blood pressure, and in some extreme cases brain damage

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Cough syrup has been linked to low blood pressure, and in some extreme cases brain damageCredit: Getty

Possible side-effects:

Common:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Stomach upset

Infrequent: N/A

Rare:

  • Hyperthermia or an extremely high fever which can lead to brain damage, seizures, coma and death.
  • Low blood pressure.

Paracetamol: Can cause liver damage

WE consume 6,300 tonnes of the painkiller paracetamol each year. In Britain, that works out at an average of 70 pills per person annually.

We consume 6,300 tonnes of paracetamol each year, but did you know it can cause liver damage?

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We consume 6,300 tonnes of paracetamol each year, but did you know it can cause liver damage?Credit: Alamy

Possible side-effects:

Common:

Infrequent:

  • Chest pain
  • Bodily swelling
  • Heart problems
  • Pancreatitis

Rare:

  • Liver damage
  • Spontaneous bleeding caused by low platelet count

Ibuprofen: Can cause a heart attack

WE take 1.4billion ibuprofen tablets every year, according to a 2005 UK survey.

Those taking ibuprofen probably aren't aware of the possibility of jaundice and stomach ulcers

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Those taking ibuprofen probably aren’t aware of the possibility of jaundice and stomach ulcersCredit: Alamy

Possible side-effects:

Common:

  • Skin rash/dizziness
  • Nausea/heartburn

Infrequent:

  • Tinnitus/itching skin
  • Water retention
  • Constipation/abdominal pain

Rare:

  • Heart attack/throat ulcer
  • Kidney failure/liver damage
  • Internal bleeding
  • Stomach ulcer
  • Jaundice
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Skin blistering
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Cold and flu tablets: Can cause hallucinations

SALES of cold and flu remedies are down 49 per cent this winter due to Covid hygiene precautions.

Cold and flu tablets can lead to liver failure and large, fluid-filled blisters

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Cold and flu tablets can lead to liver failure and large, fluid-filled blisters

Possible side-effects:

Common:

Infrequent:

  • Chest pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Rashes
  • Heart palpitations caused by loss of potassium

Rare:

  • Liver failure
  • Large fluid-filled blisters

Contraceptive pill: Can cause breast cancer

MORE than three million women in the UK are prescribed the combined Pill or mini Pill by their GP.

People taking the contraceptive pill can be susceptible to breast cancer, liver cancer and blood clots

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People taking the contraceptive pill can be susceptible to breast cancer, liver cancer and blood clotsCredit: Getty

Possible side-effects:

Common:

Infrequent:

  • High blood pressure
  • Weight gain
  • Stomach cramps

Rare:

  • Blood clots
  • Kidney disease
  • Hepatitis
  • Breast cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Gallstones

Antihistamines: Can cause blood disorders

ACCORDING to the NHS, 20 per cent of us get hayfever and 65 per cent of sufferers use antihistamines.

In rare cases, antihistamines have been linked to blood disorders and extreme rashes

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In rare cases, antihistamines have been linked to blood disorders and extreme rashesCredit: Alamy

Possible side-effects:

Common:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache

Infrequent:

  • Blurred vision
  • Muscle weakness
  • Difficulty peeing

Rare:

  • Haemolytic anae-mia, which destroys red blood cells
  • Blood disorders
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Extreme skin rash
From headaches to blurred vision – the rare side effects you need to look out for with the AstraZeneca jab





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