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What Are the Most Common Fenofibrate Side Effects?

The most common Fenofibrate side effects include chest congestion and difficulty breathing.
Some patients who are prescribed fenofibrate experience headaches that dissipate as their bodies adjust to the new medication.
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  • Written By: C. K. Lanz
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2014
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The most common fenofibrate side effects include chest congestion, difficulty breathing, and gastrointestinal problems. Many patients also experience headaches and back, leg, and arm pain. These fenofibrate side effects typically do not require medical attention and often go away as the body gets used to the medication. In rare cases, fenofibrate can cause serious side effects that require medical intervention and can be life-threatening such as rash, hives, and coughing up blood.

For the majority of patients, fenofibrate side effects can be bothersome but do not require medical intervention. Gastrointestinal problems like constipation, heartburn, and diarrhea are common fenofibrate side effects. Many people taking this drug also report headache, back, leg, and arm pain as well as chest congestion. As the body adjusts to the medication, these side effects fade and eventually disappear. If they persist or become severe, the prescribing physician should be notified as soon as possible.

Certain fenofibrate side effects are rare. Some patients may experience stomach bloating with chronic indigestion, dark urine, and yellow skin or eyes. Loss of appetite, muscle cramps, and unusual bruising and bleeding are also associated with this medication. An individual taking fenofibrate that begins coughing up blood, experiencing pain while breathing, or develops blistering and peeling skin should seek medical attention quickly.

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Patients taking fenofibrate should check with the prescribing physician if certain signs and symptoms develop. Unexplained muscle pain or weakness accompanied by fatigue and fever should be reported. The doctor will also want to know if the patient develops any signs of infection like sore throat or fever.

Female patients who become pregnant should consider stopping fenofibrate as the drug can cause birth defects. Those with previous or current gallbladder, kidney, or liver disease should consider other treatments. The prescribing physician may also ask about a history of diabetes or hypothyroidism when considering fenofibrate. This course of treatment is most effective when combined with a low-fat and low-cholesterol diet.

This medication is an antilipemic agent that quickens the processes that remove cholesterol from the human body. Combined with a low-fat diet, fenofibrate helps lower the amount of fatty substances like triglycerides and cholesterol and increase the amount of high-density lipoprotein in the blood. If these fatty substances are allowed to accumulate along artery walls, the blood flow and oxygen supply to the heart and brain among other areas of the body decreases. As a result, the risk of strokes, heart disease and attacks, and angina goes up.

As with any medication, fenofibrate can interact with other drugs, vitamins, and supplements. Anticoagulants, diuretics, and beta blockers can affect fenofibrate side effects as well as dosage. The doctor will also want to know if the patient is taking hormonal contraceptives, immunosuppressants, and tacrolimus.

Fenofibrate is available as a tablet, capsule, and extended-release capsule, all taken orally. The dosage specifics vary between brands of this drug as well as between patients. In most cases, the dosage is adjusted based on laboratory tests done to determine how the drug is affecting a patient’s blood level of fatty acids. If these levels do not decrease within two months of starting the drug, the prescribing physician may stop treatment and try an alternative medication.

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