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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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What are the side effects of chemotherapy drugs?

Answered by
Dr. Matt Wachsman

Addiction Medicine Specialist

Practicing since :1985

Answered : 3606 Questions

Posted on Fri, 26 Aug 2016 in Smoking and Alcohol Addiction
Question: how long do i need to watch for side effects for if I just started taking it. like do side effects show up right away if you're going to have them or at any time?
Answered by Dr. Matt Wachsman 1 hour later
Brief Answer:
Soon in the vast majority.

Detailed Answer:
of course it depends on the drug and the context in a number of ways. The extreme are drugs that do permanent genetic damage (radiation mainly) the side effects of even a fatal dose would take days to begin. There is a cumulative effect on the total amount of radiation added up lifetime. Some of the chemotherapy drugs with effects on the heart are like that too with cumulative toxicity over a lifetime but no toxicity in the first weeks on it.

Psych medicines typically have multiple time frames of side effects. The first occur in the first 72 hrs. There are another set that occur in the first few weeks and some that occur after you become adapted to it over months to years.

Furthermore we aren't even beginning to talk about addiction and withdrawal which require weeks of steady drug exposure to even begin to occur and then only become noticeable when the drug is stopped...often years after beginning it.

Then there are some drugs that slowly poison organ systems. Tylenol and the liver is NOT one of those and only acute huge overdoses of it are liver toxic and taking the usual doses for a lifetime is entirely non-toxic. BUT aspirin like drugs can have long term effects on the kidneys. This is not usual. Takes more than the recommended dose and often is reversible. Of course cigarettes on the lung is an additive toxicity.

Most side effects of most drugs are in the first few hours after taking them.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
Follow up: Dr. Matt Wachsman 42 minutes later
I'm sorry I meant to put lexapro
Answered by Dr. Matt Wachsman 2 hours later
Brief Answer:
That's why we have follow ups!

Detailed Answer:
Lexapro tends to be a bit lower side effects of all sorts than most of the others.
Prozac has about a 10% discontinuation rate due to stimulation (anxiety, insomnia, etc.) while remeron and paxil have a comparable percent of people who cannot tolerate them due to sleepiness. Lexapro doesn't have as much of a problem. Also, paxil has a reputation of having more withdrawal.
Bur frankly withdrawal symptoms of anti-depressants is overrated. Mostly it is th eunderlying anxiety and/or depression just coming back when it is not treated. You wouldn't say gasoline has a side effect of stopping cars just because when you don't have any in the tank the car stops.....

So, side effects are predominantly in the first week. Or when it is stopped.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar

The User accepted the expert's answer

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