December 25, 2015
Managing Drug Side Effects – Part 2
When you talk to your doctor, have a list of all other medications and/or supplements you're taking - both prescription and over-the-counter. Sometimes, side effects are caused by two or more drugs reacting negatively together, and you may not need both.
Keep in mind that a new symptom may actually be a drug side effect. If you don't give your doctor the whole story, he may diagnose you with another condition entirely, and prescribe another drug to treat it.
There are a lot of factors that go into side effects -- not just the medication itself," Owen says. "You may be able to prevent them by avoiding alcohol or certain foods, or by making other small changes to your diet or lifestyle."
For example, if you take an antidepressant that helps you feel better but also causes you to gain weight, you may have to pay more attention to your nutrition and exercise plan.
Some medicines, like cholesterol drugs and blood thinners, may not work as well if you eat grapefruit or foods high in Vitamin K. Grapefruit can also make the cholesterol and blood thinners become toxic to your body. Other drugs may make you sensitive to the sun, so wear sunscreen or cover up outside.
It's smart to do your own research about your medicine. Read the label and all the instructions that come with your prescription. Talk with other people who have similar health problems. Please search reliable sources on the Internet.
If you read or hear about another drug that may have fewer side effects, ask your doctor or pharmacist about it. Side effects of newer medications may not be as well known as those on the market for years, so you might ask about switching to an older, more proven drug.
Never stop a medicine or change your dosage without your doctor's approval, especially if you're being treated for a serious health condition. You need to take some medicines, like antibiotics, for a full course to avoid getting sick again. Others don't work as well if you skip a dose, cut it in half, or take it with or without food.
You may be able to tolerate some side effects, especially if they're temporary or if the pros outweigh the cons. But, if a bad drug reaction puts you at risk for more medical problems or seriously affects your health, it may be time for a change. Always notify your prescribing doctor and explain what is happening.
Medications that cause dizziness, for example, can increase your risk of death or serious injury from falling, especially if you're an older adult. And treatments that affect your ability to enjoy time with friends or romantic partners may not be your best option if alternatives are available. If you are one of the elderly, make sure that the doctor will be monitoring you until you are sure that the drug can be effective and that your body is receiving the intended benefits.
Sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error, but often you can find a medicine that works without affecting your quality of life. Also, ask the doctor about whether grapefruit is a problem with a drug and follow the instructions carefully. Some foods need to be avoided with a few drugs.