Thursday, 8 Jun 2023

Statins side effects: Two ‘common’ but smelly side effects of the cholesterol medicine

Statins: How the drug prevents heart attacks and strokes

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Take Simvastatin, for example, which is a type of statin prescribed in the UK. Considered a “low-intensity statin” by the UK Health Security Agency (HSA), it can commonly lead to smelly side effects. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) expanded on what to expect. For some people taking Simvastatin, diarrhoea could be one smelly side effect.


The NHS added that diarrhoea has many causes, including: gastroenteritis, a food allergy, anxiety, or irritable bowel syndrome.

Gastroenteritis is a bowel infection caused by a virus, bacteria, or parasite.

Most cases of diarrhoea stop without treatment within a few days. However, diarrhoea can lead to dehydration, so it’s advisable to rehydrate.

You can rehydrate by frequently sipping on water, as well as take an oral rehydration solution (ORS) – available in pharmacies.

Simvastatin can also lead to flatulence, NICE added – another way to describe farting.

The NHS pointed out that “everyone farts, some more than others”, with the average being between five to 15 farts per day.

To help reduce the amount of farts you do daily, or to improve the smell, it helps to eat smaller meals, more often.

It can also help to drink or chew food more slowly, and to exercise regularly to improve digestion.

One beverage touted by the national health service to improve flatulence is peppermint tea.

However, to avoid making farts more smelly, or numerous, it is wise not to chew gum, smoke, to suck pen tops or hard sweets.

Try not to eat too many foods that are difficult to digest, such as foods containing the sweetener sorbitol.

Other gas-producing foods include: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, lentils, and onions.

Considering the overall benefits of taking statins, compared to the risk of diarrhoea and smelly farts, it is still in your best interest to take medication as prescribed.

If any side effects of statins are troubling you, it is best to speak to your doctor.

Other “common” side effects, pointed out by NICE, include:

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Sleep disorders.

While “uncommon”, Simvastatin has been linked to alopecia, memory loss, and skin reactions.

Public Health England (PHE) encourages everybody to eat healthily, to be a non-smoker, and to drink within the 14 units weekly guidelines.

These recommendations apply whether or not you have been prescribed statins.

Another key way to help bring down cholesterol levels is to be physically active and to maintain or achieve a healthy weight.

If you are unsure what weight is considered healthy for you, the NHS Body Mass Index calculator could be a helpful tool.

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