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Medicines can help treat or prevent illness and disease. They also help to relieve symptoms and manage health conditions. However, sometimes medicines can cause problems. One type of problem is an adverse drug reaction. This can occur if your body responds badly to a medicine. You should know what to do if you think that you or someone you take care of is having an adverse drug reaction.
Path to safety
Anyone can have an adverse drug reaction. They are more common in people who take more than 3 medicines each day. One medicine might cause a reaction if it’s taken with another medicine.
The best way to reduce your chances of having an adverse reaction is to take all medicines according to the instructions. You also should try to limit the number of medicines you take. Work with your healthcare provider to see if this is possible. Bring your medicines and supplements with you to every healthcare provider visit. You should include over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and supplements. These can cause adverse drug reactions as well.
Consider using only one drugstore or pharmacy. This allows the pharmacists get to know you and the medicines you take. Pharmacists are trained to look at the medicines you’re taking to see whether they might cause an adverse drug reaction.
Allergies are another type of drug reaction. Symptoms may be mild, such as a rash, or severe, such as anaphylaxis. Some types of food can cause adverse drug reactions. For example, grapefruit and grapefruit juice may affect how drugs work. Alcohol and caffeine can cause reactions as well. Every time your healthcare provider prescribes a new drug, ask about all the possible interactions.
Things to consider
You might be tempted to save money by taking old medicines. You should not do this. The medicine may have expired. The medicine may be a different dose than what you need now. Also, if you are taking other new medicines, it could cause an adverse drug reaction. You should always get a new prescription and throw out old medicines.
To be safe, you should never share medicines. Using medicines that were prescribed for a friend or relative can cause problems and lead to an adverse drug reaction. The reason for this is:
- Your healthcare provider prescribes medicine according to your size, gender and age.
- The medicines you’re taking are probably different from the medicines the other person takes.
- You might react differently to the medicine than the other person did.
How will I know I’m having an adverse drug reaction?
When you’re taking any medicine, it’s important to be aware of any change in your body. Contact your healthcare provider if something unusual happens.
It may be hard to know if an adverse reaction is caused by your illness or by your medicine. Tell your healthcare provider when your symptoms started and whether they are different from other symptoms you have had from an illness. Be sure to remind your healthcare provider of all the medicines you are taking. The following are some adverse drug reactions that you might notice:
- Skin rash
- Severe nausea and vomiting
- Trouble breathing
- Abnormal heartbeat
Your healthcare provider might tell you to stop taking the medicine so the adverse reaction will go away by itself. Or your healthcare provider might have you take another medicine to treat the reaction. If your adverse reaction is serious, you might have to go to a hospital. Never stop taking a medicine on your own; always contact your healthcare provider first.