Have you been prescribed Coumadin, or warfarin, whichever? This blood thinner is a life saver, as well as a potentially serious side effects producer.
Warfarin does wonders to prevent the likes of heart attacks and strokes. But its flip side is dangerous bleeding. So possibly more than with any other drug, you need to work closely with your prescribing physician to discover the right dose for you.
Warfarin is not a pill you pop and forget it because its optimal dose varies amongst individuals. Too much leads to bleeding and too little allows for dangerous blood clots.
Kicking off with warfarin’s less serious side effects:
- hair loss
- pale skin
- cold feeling
- bruise easily
- taste changes
- bleeding gums
- intermittent nosebleeds
- heavier than normal menstrual bleeding
- minor cut bleeding a little beyond normal
You always need to tell your doctor about any one of these on your next visit.
Here are the “contact your health care professional immediately” if you notice any of these warfarin Coumadin side effects:
- joint pain
- black stool
- muscle aches
- major bruising
- severe bleeding
- loss of appetite
- cough up blood
- nausea, vomiting
- flu like symptoms
- moving difficulties
- chest pain, pressure
- drawn out nosebleeds
- upper right stomach pain
- bleeding from the rectum
- prolonged bleeding gums
- swallowing, breathing difficulties
- vomit ~ bright red, coffee colored
- severe headache, abdominal pain
- urine color ~ red, dark, coffee, cola
- skin conditions ~ hives, rash, itching
- bowel movements ~ red, tar appearance
- numbness, tingling, pricking, burning, creeping anywhere
- swelling ~ face, lips, tongue, eyes, throat, mouth, legs, feet, hands
Also, contact your doc right away anytime you have a serious fall, head trauma or an infection.
One of warfarin’s very rare and serious side effect complications is skin tissue death and gangrene. Therefore, you need to notify your treating physician ASAP if you experience any skin:
- severe pain
- color changes
- temperature changes
ASAP as in today, and not tomorrow.
Coumadin can also have “not so good” drug interactions with some foods, prescription drugs, OTC medications and vitamin supplements.
Drugs that can have undesirable interactions with warfarin include:
- birth control pills
- many antibiotics
- cold medications
- allergy medicines
- laxatives, stool softeners
- upset stomach remedies ~ cimetidine, bismuth subsalicylate
Keep in mind that some OTC drugs may have aspirin in them. It is important that you read all labels.
Herbal products and supplements that may have negative interactions with Coumadin:
- vitamin K
- green tea
- dong quai
- St. John’s wort
- coenzyme Q10
- fish oil, omega 3
- cranberry extracts
How warfarin functions is by inhibiting a vitamin K dependent clotting factor. Thus, some foods have an effect on how well warfarin works. Especially those high in dietary vitamin K.
Your health care professional should instruct you on what foods to avoid or limit in your diet. Typically, the dietary foods to avoid list is those with large amounts of vitamin K, such as:
- canola oil
- soybean oil
- green onions
- beef, pork liver
- brussel sprouts
- turnip, collard, mustard greens
This is a long list of some very healthy foods. Total avoidance may not be required. And your doc is the best source for defining which, if any, of these vitamin K foods to avoid or not.
Consumption of cranberries, cranberry juice and alcohol can also have an affect. But, small amounts here and there in your diet may be acceptable. Answerable by your doctor only.
Some other risks, beyond stroke and heart attack, warfarin lowers are:
If you’ve just started taking Coumadin, this stuff may sound scary. To help take the edge off, make sure you have your health care professional’s contact numbers. If you’re in doubt, seek your doc out.