Medication Side Effects: How to Spot and Manage Them

Post Date: August 2015  |  Category: General Wellness Pharmacy Senior Health

Many people take a new medicine and feel just fine. But sometimes medicines cause unintended symptoms that can be bothersome or even difficult to tolerate.  If you have this experience, don’t give up! There are many things you can do, and your doctor and Rite Aid Pharmacist can help. Being alert to side effects is particularly important because changes occur in your body as you age and can affect how a medicine acts.    

When You Get a New Prescription

Read the side effects listed on the package insert. By knowing what the possible side effects are, you can be alert to possible symptoms and be prepared if you notice them.

Follow the directions. Be sure to read and follow the medicine instructions carefully.  If you have any questions, talk to your doctor or Rite Aid Pharmacist.

Check all your medicines with your primary care provider or Rite Aid Pharmacist. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review all the prescription medicines, over-the counter-medicines, supplements, and herbal remedies you take to be sure the combination of medicines is safe.

What to Do If You Notice Bothersome Symptoms

Discuss your symptoms with your healthcare provider or Rite Aid Pharmacist. There may be simple changes you can make to manage or prevent side effects. Also, sometimes what you think is a side effect may be caused by something other than your medication.

Don’t stop taking a medicine before discussing it with your doctor, unless you think you are having a serious or life-threatening reaction. Suddenly stopping a medication may be harmful if the dose is not tapered before discontinuing use.

Be mindful that side effects may lessen or go away. As your body adjusts to the new medicine, side effects may disappear. If you are taking a long-term medicine, you might notice a difference in 1 to 2 weeks.

Never use another person’s prescription medicine. Medicines are prescribed for you because of your unique age, size, gender, and health status, and you may react differently than another person would to the same medicine.  

Tips for Dealing with Specific Side Effects

  • Nausea or vomiting: Try taking your medicine with meals. If the medicine is supposed to be taken on an empty stomach, take the medicine before bedtime. If symptoms continue, talk to your doctor.
  • Upset stomach or diarrhea: You may be able to take another medicine to calm your symptoms. Talk to your doctor about which options are safe to take with your prescription.
  • Constipation: Try eating more high-fiber foods , drinking more water, or taking a stool softener.
  • Drowsiness or sleeplessness: If a medicine is making you drowsy, try taking it just before bed. If the medicine is keeping you awake at night and causing restless sleep, try taking it first thing in the morning.
  • Dry mouth or persistent dry cough: Drinking enough water, chewing sugar-free gum, or sucking on sugar-free hard candy or throat lozenges may help with these bothersome side effects. If you are a smoker, quit smoking.
  • Sexual problems: Talk to your doctor, there may be another medicine you can take to improve sexual side effects.
  • Mild depression: Exercising and eating a healthy diet may help boost your mood.

If you do experience side effects from a medication, report them to your doctor. While most of the time side effects are mild, some may be serious and even life threatening. Your doctor will work with you to determine if staying on the medicine, changing the dose, stopping the medicine, or switching to a different medicine might be the best option for you.

 

 

Sources

Drug Reactions, American Academy of Family Physicians:
http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/drugs-procedures-devices/prescription-medicines/drug-reactions.printerview.all.html

Medication Side Effects – How Can You Protect Yourself, Consumer Health Information Corporation:
http://www.consumer-health.com/services/cons_take12.php

Patient information: Side effects from medicines (The Basics), UpToDate
http://www.uptodate.com/contents/side-effects-from-medicines-the-basics?source=see_link

Prescription Drug Side Effects, American Association of Retired Persons:
http://www.aarp.org/health/drugs-supplements/info-09-2011/prescription-drug-side-effects.4.html

 

 

These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise, or medication regime.