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Prescription drugs can have almost miraculous results. One day, you’re in immense pain or discomfort, and the next you’re living your life normally—all thanks to the power of a little pill, liquid, or cream. Unfortunately, medications aren’t completely without drawbacks, and everyone knows that the side effects of some prescriptions can be almost as bad as the conditions they treat! Sometimes, however, it’s simply an unavoidable inconvenience—you can’t always stop taking a drug just because of the side effects. If you (or a family member) are struggling with prescriptions that are driving you crazy with side effects, here are some tips for coping and making life more comfortable.
Your doctor will warn you about possible side effects for your medications, and these warnings should be on the packaging as well. Prepare for the possibility of side effects by keeping items on hand that could help you stay more comfortable if side effects do occur. For example, if you are expecting nausea from one of your medications, be sure to take the drug with food (unless you are instructed not to), have ginger ale on hand, and eat smaller meals to minimize nausea.
Healthcare professionals want to help you avoid side effects as much as possible, and should give you detailed instructions on how to take your medication. It is very important to follow these directions, not only for your safety, but for your comfort as well. Many times, instructions such as when to take your medication are designed to help prevent some side effects from causing you discomfort. In addition, following these instructions will help you avoid dangerous interactions with certain foods or alcohol that could cause the drug to stop working, or threaten your safety.
Discuss Other Options
While the primary effects of some drugs are absolutely essential, others may not be worth the side effects they cause. Many patients who suffer from depression choose not to take anti-depressants, because they don’t like the side effects the drugs cause. Instead, other types of treatment are used, such as regular therapy sessions and lifestyle adjustments, which can have varying degrees of effectiveness. If you’re having trouble with a specific drug, there may be other options for medications as well that your body may have a better response to. Communicate with your doctor and see what options are available!
Sometimes, when you start taking a new medication, side effects may occur—only to subside within a few weeks of taking the drug. Sometimes, your body needs time to adjust to the new substance, and may not bother you with side effects forever. As long as the side effects are not serious, give it some time before you talk to your doctor about other options.
Watch Out for Serious Side Effects
While most side effects are minor annoyances at worst, others can be very serious, or even life-threatening. If you notice signs of a serious side effect, don’t ignore it. You may be having a severe allergic reaction, interaction, or some other problem that could cause you great harm. Call emergency services right away if you notice signs of a serious side effect or allergic reaction.
A Common Concern
Many people are on at least one prescription medication, even young adults. For Baby Boomers, 90% have used prescription drugs. With this in mind, it’s important that we learn coping mechanisms and options for prescription use, so we can all live happier, healthier lives—without letting side effects take the drivers’ seat.