Blood clotting is a crucial process in your body. It hinders excessive bleeding when you injure your blood vessels. Platelets and proteins in the plasma work jointly to halt the bleeding through forming a clot on the injury. However, some blood clots may be harmful. During some surgeries, doctors use medications to hinder the formation of blood clots. An example of a drug used is Heparin. Using it poses side effects. What are the drug side effects? Before thinking about the unwanted effects, it is crucial to learn about the medication, precautions to take and how the drug works.
What is Heparin?
The medication dosage comes in the form of solution. It falls under the category of low molecular weight Heparin (LMWH). Heparin minimizes the clotting ability of your blood and curbs the formation of harmful clots in your blood vessels. Together with its wanted effects, you can experience unwanted effects. The drug is said to be a blood thinner, though it doesn’t thin your blood.
How does the Drug Work?
It doesn’t dissolve the blood clots already formed; it hinders the clots from becoming bigger, preventing serious health complications. As you use the medicine, be prepared to handle side effects of Heparin injections. The following are the uses of this drug:
- Treats and prevents specific blood vessels, lung and heart conditions
- Heparin hinders blood clotting while undergoing kidney dialysis, blood transfusion, bypass surgery and open heart surgery.
- To diagnose and treat disseminated intravascular coagulation (it is a fatal blood condition)
Negative effects may be mild or severe, communicate with your doctor in case the effects become worrisome. In certain surgery, the drug is given in small doses to hinder blood clots from forming, especially if you must remain confined in bed for long. The drug is available with a doctor’s prescription and one of its benefits is to maintain a smooth blood flow by making an anti-clotting protein. Heparin is an anticoagulant. The medication contains sodium, thus, also referred to as Heparin Sodium. This medication works by interfering with the clotting ability of your blood. For the mild negative effects, they will go away on their own; no medication is needed unless they are constant and irritating. But for the severe unwanted effects, it is advisable to seek medical intervention. The drug is injected intravenously or deeply under your skin. A nurse or a health care provider gives the shots into the veins. You may be trained to give the shots at home, but use it exactly as instructed.
- The drug is available in different strength. If giving the shots at home, scrutinize the package label to confirm it is the strength the doctor prescribed; using a wrong strength aggravates the unwanted effects. If it is the wrong strength, contact the pharmacist immediately.
- After undergoing a surgery or kidney dialysis and Heparin was used, you should have frequent visits to the hospital after you have been discharged, to detect unwanted effects. Don’t skip any appointments.
- Restrain from rough sports and circumstances where there is a possibility of getting bruised, injured or cut. While using the medication, you are at a risk of bruising and bleeding more easily. Inform your doctor of falls, blow on the head. Severe internal bleeding may occur with the drug even without your knowledge. Handle sharp objects like razors, knives, fingernails clippers with care. Blow your nose gently if need be. The precautions will prevent or minimize negative effects.
- Brushing your teeth can cause bleeding. Restrain from using a toothbrush, dental floss, and toothpick. Your dentist will give you suggestions to clean your teeth.
- Inform your doctor about your medical history more so, if you have uncontrolled bleeding, clotting disorders, recent surgery, low platelet count, liver disease and any other health conditions that you may have.
- Ask your doctor the amount of alcohol you can take if addicted to alcohol. Alcohol intake increases the occurrence of stomach bleeding. It is better if you do away with alcohol completely.
Common negative effects
- Bruising easily
- Bleeding for long
- Irritation and pain on the injection site
- Allergic reactions like fever
Negative effects in elderly
If side effects are mild, they will clear after some few weeks; if they do not go away, inform your doctor. The elderly are more prone to Heparin blood thinner side effects. An example of undesired effect in elderly is bleeding. The medics are aware and use this medication with extra care on the elderly. There are severe blood thinner unwanted effects which need medical intervention, they include;
- Severe bleeding – signs entails: nose bleeding frequently, menstrual periods that are heavier than normal, brown urine, dark tarry stool, coughing blood clots just to mention but a few.
- Serious allergic reactions characterized by fever, dead skin tissue in the area of injection, and shortness of breath
- Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia – the drug use causes low platelet level. The condition is life-threatening resulting to new clots in the blood vessels or worsening the existing clots. Signs of new clots are swelling in one of your legs and coughing blood.
Negative effects during pregnancy
Are you pregnant and wondering if you will be faced with the drug side effects during pregnancy. Rest assured that the drug doesn’t cross the placenta and can’t cause birth defects. Nonetheless, take note that this medication is a blood thinner; during delivery; you can experience a side effect like excessive bleeding. During prenatal clinics, discuss with your doctor the complications during delivery and how they will be handled if they occur. Remember, before delivery, you may experience negative effects of Heparin in pregnancy, the undesirable effects are stated above. But don’t worry if the doctor has prescribed this drug during pregnancy, the benefits are more than the unwanted effects. The doctor will monitor you closely in your pregnancy, the doctor is a trained health care professional and your health is his concern.
Watch out for Heparin side effects and inform your physician if they worsen.