Talking To Your Doctor About Drug Side Effects

by on February 20, 2012

Every drug has side effects, but not everyone experiences them the same way. In fact, under current FDA regulations, only symptoms experienced in more than one percent of patients is even considered and reported as a side effect related to the medication. While most side effects are mild, some can be serious and others even life threatening.  There are three thresholds of side effects and each requires a different response from the patient.

Harmless Side Effects

Some side effects simply happen as the result of starting a medication or as the result of increasing or decreasing the dosage. These side effects are considered harmless and can be reported to your health care provider at your next appointment. These side effects include dry mouth, muscle aches and pains, restless legs, loss of apatite, fatigue and change in urine color.

If the symptoms do not resolve within 30 to 60 days of starting the medication, your health care provider may need to consider changing the dosage or type of medication.

Concerning Side Effects

Some side effects are more concerning and should prompt an immediate call to your health care provider for instructions. These side effects include hives, rashes, nausea, vomiting, memory loss, headache and back pain. These symptoms can be a sign of a more serious reaction such as allergy to the medication, so your health care provider should be contacted immediately for instructions on what should be done.

Remember to never stop taking a medication unless your health care provider says it is necessary, as slow dosage reduction may be required to avoid further problems.

Emergency Side Effects

As with anything in life, there are some side effects that constitute an emergency and require immediate ambulatory assistance. These side effects include fainting, chest pain, blurred vision, palpitations, trouble breathing, and abdominal pain. In addition, if you experience other strange symptoms such as seizures or anything else out of the ordinary for you, consider it an emergency. If these side effects are experienced, it is essential to seek immediate medical attention. Contact your local emergency number and seek immediate escort to a hospital.

Keeping A Side Effect Log

One way to track your side effects and confirm the consistency of symptoms is by keeping a log. In order to make the log, divide a piece of paper into three columns. Label the first column “Date”, label the second column “Time” and the last one is a “Symptoms” column. Whenever you experience a symptom, write the date, time and symptom on the log and take the log along with you on your next visit to the doctor’s office. This will give your health care provider an accurate idea of the symptoms being experienced and help the provider make the best decision regarding your medication.

Under modern rules, drugs are carefully tested and evaluated for all possible side effects and those drugs that have too many undesirable effects are never released onto the market. To prevent serious drug side effects, report everything to your doctor and never reduce or eliminate a medication without first consulting your health care provider.

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