Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
What is an adverse drug
Medicines can treat or prevent illness and
disease. However, sometimes medicines can cause problems. These problems are
called adverse drug reactions. You should know what to do if you think that you
or someone you take care of is having an adverse drug reaction.
Can adverse drug reactions happen to
Yes. Anybody can have an adverse drug reaction.
However, people who take more than 3 or 4 medicines every day might be more
likely to have an adverse drug reaction. One medicine might cause an adverse
reaction if its taken together with another medicine. One way to reduce your
chances of having adverse drug reactions is to work with your doctor to limit
the number of medicines you take. Tell each of your doctors (if you see more
than one) about all of the medicines you're taking, even if you only take
something for a short time. You may want to use only one drugstore so your
pharmacists get to know you and the medicines you take. Pharmacists are trained
to look at the medicines you're taking to see if they might cause an adverse
Are prescription medicines the only
cause of adverse reactions?
No. Even medicines that don't need a
prescription (sometimes called over-the-counter medicines) can cause problems.
Vitamins, health food products and herbs (in teas or tablets) may also cause
adverse reactions. It's important to tell your doctor and pharmacist if you're
using these kinds of products.
What about medicines I've used in
You might be tempted to save money by taking old
medicines that you've used before, especially if you get symptoms that seem the
same as the ones you had when the old medicine was prescribed for you. However,
it's very likely that you are taking different medicines now than you were when
you had the old problem. Even though you didn't have an adverse reaction with
the old medicine before, you might have a bad reaction when you take it with the
medicines you're taking now.
Is it safe to use a friend or
No. Using medicines that were prescribed for a
friend or relative can cause problems and might lead to adverse drug reactions.
You are probably taking different medicines than the other person, and this
different combination of drugs might cause an adverse reaction. Also, you might
react differently to the medicine than the other person did. To be safe, never
share medicines with anybody.
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. Tell your doctor 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 doctor when your symptoms started and if they are
different from other symptoms you have had from an illness. Be sure to remind
your doctor of all the medicines you are taking. The following are some adverse
drug reactions that you might notice:
- Skin rash
- Easy bruising
- Severe nausea and vomiting
- Breathing difficulties
The following are some adverse
reactions your doctor might notice during a check-up:
- Changes in lab test results
- Abnormal heartbeat
What will my doctor
do if I have an adverse drug reaction?
Your doctor might tell you to stop taking the
medicine so that the adverse reaction will go away by itself. Or your doctor
might have you take another medicine to treat the adverse reaction. If your
adverse reaction is serious, you might have to go to a hospital, but this
doesn't happen very often. Never stop taking a medicine on your own; always talk
with your doctor first.