What are appetite suppressants?
Medications classified as appetite suppressants act upon the body’s central
nervous system, tricking the body into believing that it is not hungry. Some
examples of prescription appetite suppressants include: benzphetamine,
diethylpropion, mazindol and phentermine. These medications generally come in
the form of tablets or extended-release capsules. Appetite suppressants can be
prescribed or purchased over-the-counter.
Appetite suppressants are used as a short-term treatment for patients with
obesity. Not only do the drugs’ effects tend to wear off after a few weeks,
but they can also have some unpleasant side effects, including:
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Excessive thirst
Because of the short-term effects of these drugs, it is important for
patients who are trying to lose weight to learn new eating habits and to
exercise while the drug is still effective. Once these new approaches have been
learned and established, it is important to continue following them if you hope
to continue losing weight and keep lost weight from returning.
Appetite suppressants are not for everybody. For example, there are limited
studies on these medications’ effects on older adults, and no studies have been
done on children.
Before a doctor will prescribe appetite suppressants, he or she will consider
the following: any existing allergies a patient may have; whether or not the
patient is pregnant or breastfeeding; and what types of other medications the
patient may be taking. Existing medical conditions may also affect the use of
appetite suppressants. A patient should tell his or her doctor if he or she has
any of the following conditions:
- Diabetes mellitus
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Alcohol or drug abuse (or a history of)
- Overactive thyroid
Patients who are prescribed appetite suppressants should follow the
prescription carefully. Because appetite suppressants may cause drowsiness or
lightheadedness, it is important for patients to know how they respond to these
medications before they attempt to drive or operate machinery.
Taking these medications too often or in too large a quantity, or for longer
than has been prescribed, can lead to addiction, or in worst-case situations, an
overdose. Symptoms of an overdose can include confusion, convulsions,
hallucinations, and coma. Patients who experience any of the following symptoms
should call their doctor immediately:
- A decrease in the ability to exercise
- Chest pain
- Swelling in the feet or lower legs
- Difficulty breathing
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Prescription Medications for the Treatment of Obesity.
Updated December 2010. Accessed January 13, 2011.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Overweight and Obesity.
Updated November 2010. Accessed January 13, 2011.