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Meloxicam is a commonly used pain relief medication across the world. Classified as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), many people use it to relieve pain and fever. Meloxicam is an example of NSAIDs commonly used to manage arthritis and related complications.  While the drug has proven benefits for controlling this joint condition, it does not come without risks. Many people using this drug, even for legitimate medical reasons, report experiencing various meloxicam side effects. These side effects can be mixed with acute and chronic issues of variable intensity. Knowing them beforehand can help you predict what to expect and when to seek help.
What are the Side Effects of Taking Meloxicam? The Common Everyday Issues
Meloxicam can cause mild to serious side effects, some more common than others. The following are the more common side effects associated with the use of this medication:
- Abdominal pain
- Heartburn or indigestion
- Itching or rash
These side effects may go away within a few days or weeks as long as these side effects are mild. However, if they persist even after some time or become more severe, contacting a doctor is essential.
Serious Side Effects of Meloxicam in Adults
In some people, using meloxicam may lead to many serious side effects. Sometimes, these side effects may become life-threatening or a medical emergency for which you must call for help. Mentioned below is an overview of the serious issues related to meloxicam use to keep in mind:
Heart attack symptoms include chest discomfort or pain, cold sweats, trouble breathing, pain or discomfort in one or both arms, shoulders, back, jaw, neck, etc.
The stroke symptoms may include weakness or numbness in the arms, face, or leg, particularly on any one side of the body. Additionally, the condition may cause sudden confusion, vision problems in one or both eyes, trouble speaking, loss of coordination or balance, dizziness, and severe headaches with no other explanatory causes.
All NSAIDs, including meloxicam, can cause gut problems and intestinal issues, such as ulcers, bleeding, and tearing. Symptoms of these issues may include bloody stools, severe stomach pain, black stools, vomiting blood, or severe stomach pain.
Excessive or long-term use of meloxicam can damage the liver, leading to nausea, vomiting, dark urine, pale stools, stomach pain, reduced appetite, and yellowing of the eyes and skin.
Meloxicam can also increase blood pressure, which may manifest in users through dizzy spells, dull headaches, and nose bleeds.
Regularly using meloxicam may force the body to retain water and swell up, leading to rapid weight gain and swelling in hands, feet, and ankles.
Rarely, some people may experience blistering or peeling skin or the appearance of a skin rash due to meloxicam use.
Meloxicam may sometimes damage the kidneys, especially in people with pre-existing renal issues.  This may lead to problems, such as pain with urination, changes in everyday urinary habits, and decreased red blood cells.
What to Avoid When Taking Meloxicam? The Potential Interactions
Meloxicam oral tablets have the potential to interact with many other medications, leading to different effects based on what medication it interacts with and what the interaction includes. For example, Some of these interactions disrupt how well meloxicam works, while others may lead to heightened side effects.
Below is a list of all medicines that may interact with meloxicam. Remember that the list is not comprehensive and may lack many essential medications. To avoid risks, let your doctor or pharmacist know about all your medications, including over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Also, give them detailed information about all your herbs, supplements, and vitamins.
Drugs for Depression and Anxiety
Taking meloxicam with certain medications used to treat anxiety and cure can raise the risk of bleeding. Examples of these medications may include the following:
- Selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, like venlafaxine
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, like citalopram
Combining meloxicam with corticosteroids can put a person at risk of bleeding and ulcers in the stomach. Some examples of these drugs include dexamethasone and prednisolone.
Cancer drugs, such as pemetrexed, can increase the risk of acquiring an infection when used with meloxicam. Additionally, the duo may also cause stomach issues and kidney problems.
Cyclosporine is a medicine used in people who have received an organ transplant to suppress the risk of rejection. Meloxicam can reduce the rate at which the body processes cyclosporine, causing the drug to accumulate and cause kidney issues. A doctor should constantly monitor kidney functions in people taking both drugs simultaneously.
Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs)
Methotrexate, a type of DMARD, may start piling up in the blood when taken with meloxicam. Consequently, a user may be at a higher risk of kidney issues and infection since methotrexate is an immune system suppressor.
Anticoagulant medications, such as warfarin, that thin your blood may put you at a high risk of stomach bleeds when combined with meloxicam.
Medications to Manage Bipolar Disorder
Lithium is a common medication used to help people with bipolar disorder keep their symptoms under control. Pairing this medicine with meloxicam may increase the lithium level in the blood to dangerously high limits. Some signs of lithium toxicity may include confusion, tremors, and thirst. A doctor may need to monitor your lithium levels if you take meloxicam.
Antihypertensives, drugs to control blood pressure, and meloxicam can reduce their efficacy. This means that despite taking them regularly, people may not keep their blood pressure within safe limits. Some of these drugs include the following.
- Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBS), like valsartan and candesartan
- Beta-blockers, like propranolol and atenolol
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, like captopril and benazepril
Also known as water pills, certain diuretics may not work well if taken with meloxicam. These diuretics may include furosemide and hydrochlorothiazide.
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
Meloxicam is a type of NSAID, and combining it with any other member of the same drug class can increase the risk of side effects, such as ulcers and stomach bleeds. Some examples of NSAIDs may include aspirin, etodolac, naproxen, ibuprofen, ketoprofen, indomethacin, tolmetin, and diclofenac.
Meloxicam Warnings to Avoid Side Effects
Because of the possible meloxicam side effects, keep the following warnings to minimize risks and potential damage.
Warning for Liver Damage
Meloxicam can significantly damage the liver, leading to inflammation, damage, and even failure. Hence, people with pre-existing liver issues may re-consider their need to use this NSAID and may ask their doctor if a safer alternative is available.
Blood Pressure Warning
Meloxicam can potentially increase blood pressure readings, which, in turn, may heighten the risk of a stroke or heart attack. A doctor may consider carefully monitoring your blood pressure as long as you take this medication. Remember that your usual blood pressure-controlling drugs may also not work well if you take meloxicam.
Warning for Allergic Reactions
Like any other medication, meloxicam may also cause a severe allergic reaction in some people, leading to symptoms like troubled breathing, hives, and tongue or throat swelling. Experts advise not taking medication if you have a runny nose, nasal polyps, and asthma. Moreover, people who experience an allergic reaction to aspirin must also avoid it.
Warning for Multiorgan hypersensitivity
Meloxicam can cause multiorgan damage in some people, a condition known as drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS).  The DRESS syndrome can be hazardous and life-threatening; hence, you must always call a doctor immediately if you develop a fever, rash, or swollen lymph nodes after taking meloxicam.
Warning for Fetal Harm
Women who are pregnant or planning to conceive soon must not use meloxicam. This medication can cause severe harm to the developing fetus, especially when taken after 20 weeks of pregnancy or at any later stage. Women in their 20th to 30th week of pregnancy must only use this medication if their doctor has advised them to. Stop the use after the 30th week at all costs.
How should I take meloxicam to avoid side effects?
Remember that the dose of meloxicam can vary from one person to another, depending on various factors like:
- Your age
- The type of condition you are using meloxicam to manage and its severity
- Your preferred choice of formulation for meloxicam
- Any other medications you are using
- Any pre-existing medical issues, such as kidney problems
Generally, a doctor may start you on a low dosage and adjust it with time until a suitable level has been achieved.
Is it safe to take meloxicam if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?
Do not take meloxicam if you are pregnant without consulting a doctor. Taking any NSAID during the last 20 weeks of pregnancy may lead to severe kidney and heart problems in the developing baby and other possible pregnancy complications. It is imperative to understand that meloxicam can also delay ovulation, the process through which the ovary releases an egg. Hence, women undergoing fertility treatment or becoming pregnant must avoid it. The safety of using meloxicam during breastfeeding is not well-established; therefore, ask a doctor before using it while nursing your baby.
Is there anything that I should avoid while using meloxicam?
Avoid taking aspirin while on meloxicam, as the combination can lead to many side effects. Combining the drug with alcohol may put you at an increased risk of stomach bleeds. Lastly, do not pair meloxicam with other medications with similar active ingredients, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, as doing so may significantly enhance the side effects profile.
Can using meloxicam excessively lead to an overdose?
It is possible to experience a meloxicam overdose, especially if you have exceeded your daily limit. If you feel that you or someone you know is developing the signs of an overdose, call for emergency help immediately. Following are the symptoms of meloxicam overdose to remember:
- Trouble breathing
- Stomach pain
- Coffee-ground vomiting
- Nausea and vomiting
- Lack of energy
- Bloody or tarry stools
Does meloxicam cause weight gain?
Meloxicam does not directly cause weight gain. It possesses water-retaining properties, which cause puffiness and swelling, and may budget the numbers on the weight machine. However, this weight gain is temporary and has nothing to do with eating or gaining more fat.
Does meloxicam cause constipation?
Meloxicam can potentially cause constipation; however, some users also report experiencing diarrhea with it.
What are the worst side effects of meloxicam?
The worst or the most dangerous side effects of meloxicam include having severe stomach pain, vomiting blood, having black, tarry stools, or swelling of the face, feet, fingers, or lower legs. These symptoms indicate a medical emergency requiring urgent treatment to avoid mortality.
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