Aspartame is low-calorie sweetener, often used in diet sodas and tea under the names NutraSweet or Equal. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has approved aspartame for consumption, but many are not convinced that it is a healthy alternative to sugar. Several side effects have been reported in those using aspartame, with symptoms ranging from mildly irritating to permanently debilitating.
In 1991, Dr. H.J. Roberts reported that people ingesting large amounts of aspartame were experiencing difficulty and pain during joint motion. Others continue to notice joint discomfort or swelling while using aspartame.
Severe abdominal pain and even nausea are sometimes associated with aspartame. These effects are unlikely to cause death, but are very unpleasant and can prevent a person from completing daily tasks.
Rashes and itching are skin conditions commonly attributed to aspartame use. They can usually be seen around the mouth and on the lips.
Changes in heart palpitations, shortness of breath and a racing pulse are the primary heart problems that aspartame users experience.
The sweetener has the potential to alter a woman's menstrual cycle and increase the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.