Published On: Wed, Aug 26th, 2020

Most Common Side Effects of Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs are a fact of life for many Americans in 2020. In fact, 66% of all adults in the United States regularly use at least one prescription drug. This number only increases as you isolate aging populations. Prescription drugs can be used to treat something gas minor as a sinus infection all the way to something more severe like high blood pressure or diabetes. Despite all these differences, one thing that you can pretty much guarantee with any prescription drug is that it comes with a risk of side effects. You’ve probably seen countless television commercials for tons of prescription drugs that list all the potential side effects at the end. It seems like the list goes on and on while the audio has to be sped up just to fit all of them within just a few seconds. Obviously, this is concerning for a number of different reasons and it may leave you wondering what side effects you can expect to have when taking prescription drugs. Here’s a quick guide that will tell you everything you need to know:

Different Types of Prescription Drugs

There are so many different types of prescription drugs out there that it can be hard to keep them all straight. Here are the types that you will see most often:

  • Antibiotics
  • Antidepressants
  • Antihistamines
  • Asthma medications
  • Decongestants
  • Diabetes medications
  • Heart and blood pressure medications
  • Heartburn medications
  • Pain relievers

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Different Types of Side Effects

Along with different types of prescription drugs, there are different types of side effects as well that range from mildly annoying to life-threatening. Here’s what you need to know about the different types of side effects caused by prescription drugs:

  • Minor side effects: Minor side effects of prescription drugs are common and vary from person to person. These can either be ignored, mitigated through household remedies, or addressed with your doctor.
  • Allergic reactions: Your body may trigger an allergic reaction to a medication. Signs of this include rashes, hives, itching, fever, and swelling.
  • Severe side effects: Severe side effects of prescription drugs are usually rare but are still a concern. These severe side effects can be life-threatening if not treated promptly by a medical professional.
  • Chemical side effects: Chemical side effects occur as a direct result of the chemical makeup of the drug. These side effects are commonly accepted as just part of the territory.
  • Negative interaction side effects: Some drugs work fine on their own but can cause side effects if combined with another substance (like alcohol) that interacts negatively with the medication.  

Common Side Effects of Prescription Drugs

While side effects vary based on the type of drug, there are some super common ones that you should be aware of:

  • Gastrointestinal issues like nausea, constipation, bloating, diarrhea, heartburn, etc.
  • Drowsiness, dizziness, and fatigue
  • Rash, swelling, and hives
  • Heart issues like heart palpitations, an irregular heartbeat, or chest pain
  • Weight gain or weight loss along with a decreased appetite
  • Insomnia and trouble sleeping

What to Do If Experiencing Side Effects

If you are experiencing side effects from your prescription drug, it’s always best to address this with your doctor. Of course, if you are experiencing severe side effects, you should go to the emergency room or at least urgent care. In minor cases, you can simply make a follow-up appointment with your doctor to share your concerns and work together to find a solution. Remember to always be honest with your doctor about what you are experiencing and express any concerns that you have bluntly so that they can understand your situation and properly address your issues.

How to Deal With Unwanted Side Effects

One way that you can deal with side effects is by seeing if your doctor can decrease the dosage of your medication. You may also be able to try out different medications within the same family to see if you react better to those. Other times, you may have to start taking additional medications to deal with the side effects of your original medication. This sounds counterintuitive and counterproductive. According to Even, there are supplements you can take that can decrease your side effects without the risk of creating even more side effects! These are certainly all options that you can discuss with your doctor.

Prescription drugs can certainly be a mixed bag. You really never know what you’re going to get. You could react wonderfully to one drug but extremely poorly to a different brand of the same medication! And while there are certainly some important uses of prescription drugs, it’s important to not take them if they aren’t necessary and only take them as directed by your doctor or pharmacist. That being said, if you are experiencing issues with side effects from prescription drugs, it’s important to have a conversation with your doctor about your issues so that you can work together to find a solution and improve your quality of life.

Author: Jacob Maslow

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