Prescription diet drugs.
Prescription weight-loss drugs. Are you an adult who has serious health problems because of your weight? Have you ever tried dieting and exercise but have not been able to lose enough weight? If you answered yes to these questions, a prescription weight-loss medication may be an option for you.
Keep in mind, however, that prescription weight-loss medications are used in addition to diet and exercise, not instead of them.
Who is a candidate for weight-loss medications?
Your doctor may consider prescribing weight-loss medication if you are unable to lose weight with diet and exercise and if you meet any of the following conditions:
Your body mass index (BMI) is greater than 30.
Your BMI is greater than 27 and you have a serious obesity-related medical condition, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
Before choosing a medication for you, your doctor will consider your health history and problems. He or she will then discuss with you the pros and cons of prescription weight-loss medications.
It is important to keep in mind that weight-loss medications are not right for everyone. For example, prescription weight-loss medications should not be used if you are trying to conceive, become pregnant, or breastfeed.
How effective are weight-loss medications? Prescription weight-loss drugs
Prescription weight-loss medications approved for long-term use (more than 12 weeks) cause significant weight loss compared to placebo. The combination of weight-loss medications and lifestyle changes results in greater weight loss than lifestyle changes alone.
Over the course of a year, this can represent a weight loss of 3 to 7% of total body weight compared to lifestyle changes. This number may seem modest. But prolonged weight loss of 5 to 10% can have significant health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure, blood sugar and triglyceride levels.
What you need to know about weight-loss pills
Mild side effects, such as nausea, constipation or diarrhea, are common. They may disappear over time. In rare cases, serious side effects can occur. That is why it is important to discuss your treatment options in detail with your doctor.
Dietary medications can be expensive and are not always covered by insurance. Ask your insurance company if they cover it.
Many people regain some of the weight they lost when they stop taking weight-loss medications. However, adopting healthy lifestyle habits can help limit weight regain.
How long does the drug treatment last?
The length of treatment depends on how well the medication helps you lose weight. If you have lost enough weight to improve your health and have not experienced any serious side effects, your doctor may suggest that you take the medicine indefinitely.
If you have not lost at least 5% of your body weight after 3 to 6 months of taking the maximum dose of a medicine, your doctor will probably change your treatment and switch you to another weight-loss medicine.
What medications are approved for weight loss?
Four diet drugs have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for long-term use:
Most prescription weight-loss medications work by decreasing appetite or increasing feelings of fullness. Some do both. Orlistat is an exception to the rule. It works by interfering with fat absorption.
bupropion-naltrexone Prescription weight-loss drugs
Bupropion-naltrexone is a combination drug. Naltrexone is used to treat alcohol and opioid addiction. Bupropion is an antidepressant and smoking cessation aid. Like all antidepressants, bupropion carries a warning about the risk of suicide. Bupropion-naltrexone can increase blood pressure and monitoring is required at the start of treatment. Common side effects are nausea, headache and constipation.
Liraglutide is also used to control diabetes. Unlike other weight loss medications, liraglutide is injected. Nausea is common. Vomiting may limit its use. Prescription weight-loss drugs
orlistat Prescription weight-loss drugs
Orlistat is also available in reduced over-the-counter (Alli) form. Orlistat may cause uncomfortable gastrointestinal side effects, such as flatulence and loose stools. You should follow a low-fat diet while taking this medication. Rare cases of severe liver damage have been reported with orlistat. However, a causal relationship has not been established.
Phentermine-topiramate is a combination of a weight-loss drug (phentermine) and an anticonvulsant (topiramate). Phentermine can be abused because it acts like an amphetamine. Other possible side effects include increased heart rate and blood pressure, insomnia, constipation, and nervousness. Topiramate increases the risk of birth defects.
Phentermine alone (Adipex-P, Lomaira) is also used for weight loss. It is one of four similar weight-loss drugs approved for short-term use (less than 12 weeks). Other drugs in this group are not widely prescribed.
Weight-loss medicines are not an easy way to lose weight. But they can help you make the lifestyle changes you need to lose weight and improve your health.
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