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Thalidomide Side Effects

Common Side Effects

Thalidomide has been studied extensively in clinical trials. In these studies, the side effects that occurred in a group of people taking thalidomide were carefully documented and compared to the side effects that occurred in a similar group of people not taking thalidomide. As a result, it was possible to see what side effects occurred and how often they appeared.
 
In these studies, the most common thalidomide side effects included:
 
  • Fatigue -- in up to 79 percent of people
  • Low blood calcium levels -- up to 72 percent
  • Swelling of the arms, hands, legs, ankles, feet, or other body areas -- up to 56 percent
  • Constipation -- up to 55 percent
  • Numbness, coldness, tingling, or burning sensations, especially of the hands and feet -- up to 54 percent
  • Shortness of breath -- up to 42 percent
  • Muscle weakness -- up to 40 percent
  • Drowsiness -- up to 37.5 percent
  • Low white blood cell counts -- up to 35 percent
  • Skin rash -- up to 30 percent.
 
Other common side effects, occurring in 10 percent to 28 percent of people, included but were not limited to:
 
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Decreased appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Weakness or lack of energy
  • Headache
  • Tremor
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fever
  • Changes in weight (weight loss or gain)
  • Muscle twitching and cramping
  • Dry skin
  • Dry mouth
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Heartburn or indigestion
  • Acne
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Increased blood sugar levels
  • Yeast infection of the mouth (thrush)
  • Depression.
 
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