Medication was designed to improve symptoms associated with a variety of illnesses to help individuals maintain or improve their health. Unfortunately, all types of medicine, including prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, have potential side effects and risks. Side effects are adverse reactions to medicine that can happen even if you use it correctly. They often include mild symptoms like headaches, dizziness, and digestive issues. However, rare serious illnesses like liver or heart problems can occur. Any medicine can cause adverse reactions that can cause you to have to go to the nearest emergency room. However, there are several things you can do to lessen some side effects of medications.
Lessening Side Effects of Medications
Unfortunately, you can’t avoid all possible side effects of a medication, but you can’t help prevent them. Still, if you’re taking medication, you accept some potential side effects and must be willing to deal with the consequences. However, if you’re taking medication for a less serious condition, you can decide to forgo medication altogether to avoid unpleasant side effects. Some ways you can reduce the effects of some medications include:
Understand the Risks
Knowing the potential side effects of a particular medication won’t stop them from happening, but knowing what to expect can help you prepare for them. For example, if you know your medication could cause migraines, you should avoid operating heavy machinery after taking it. The most common side effects associated with most medications are stomach problems like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or even constipation because the medication can irritate the stomach as it makes its way through your system.
Preparing for common side effects can help you reduce their effects on your body and life. For example, if you know your medication might cause constipation, you can eat more fiber to naturally promote healthier bowel movements.
Talk to your Doctor
Talking to your doctor about the side effects is another way to determine how to prevent them when possible. Your doctor can also give you guidance on what to do if you do experience any side effects or provide you with additional treatments to treat side effects associated with medications you need. For example, if someone is taking medication for a heart condition, they can’t avoid their medication because it could be life-threatening. However, their doctor may be able to provide additional medication to treat some of the more unpleasant side effects like erectile dysfunction.
You should also discuss unexpected side effects with your doctor as soon as they start. Any changes you experience should be noted by your doctor in case they decide to change your medication to reduce your symptoms. Some side effects may go away as your body gets used to the medication, or your doctor may try lowering your dosage to reduce the severity of side effects.
Consider Lifestyle Changes
Some factors can impact which side effects you experience, including your lifestyle. For example, avoiding alcohol and certain foods can prevent some of the more extreme side effects. Consider this: if you take birth control, but it makes you gain weight, you’ll have to pay more attention to your diet and exercise to prevent weight gain and keep it off. In addition, some medications may not work if you eat certain foods or consume supplements, which is why it’s so important to discuss your medication with your doctor to ensure that it’ll be effective based on your lifestyle.
Research Alternative Medications
Your doctor likely knows of some alternatives if you experience side effects from your medication. However, your doctor may not always understand the severity of your symptoms, so it’s in your best interest to do as much research about alternatives to find a treatment that works best for you. Of course, if your doctor tells you they believe you should be on a certain medication, it’s best to trust them. Still, you should keep in contact with them and inform them about any significant and severe side effects that are affecting your quality of life.
Research Non-Medication Alternatives
The medical field is wide and far-reaching, with several types of treatment available for many illnesses. Some illnesses can be treated without medications. For example, essential tremor can be treated with anti-seizure medication like Primidone or drug-free options that can be worn on the wrist and use electrical stimulation to reduce the severity of the tremors.
If you can’t tolerate the side effects of medication, you can discuss non-medication alternatives with your doctor. However, depending on your illness, there may not be any available. Therefore, you must weigh the pros and cons to help you determine what’s right for you based on your symptoms and preferences.
Prevent Drug Interactions
Drug interactions can cause some medications to be ineffective while increasing the potential for dangerous side effects like weightgain or hair loss. Therefore, you should tell your doctor about any medications or supplements you currently use to prevent potentially harmful drug interactions. Even something that seems harmless, like a supplement, can render the medication ineffective or cause dangerous side effects, so it’s important for your doctor to know about any vitamins, minerals, and other pharmaceuticals you take daily that can worsen your symptoms, render your medication ineffective or cause life-threatening reactions.
Follow Your Doctor’s Instructions
When you’re prescribed medication, your doctor gives you detailed instructions for how and when to take them. For example, since some medications can cause GI issues, your doctor may tell you to take your medication with food. If you ignore these instructions, you increase your chances of unpleasant side effects that can affect your quality of life and even ruin your plans for the day. Of course, not following your doctor’s directions can also cause life-threatening reactions. For example, if you take prescription pain medication and take more than you should because you’re in extreme pain, you may risk an overdose.
Unfortunately, you can’t always prevent the side effects of medications, but you can reduce the severity by following your doctor’s instructions and discussing any side effects you have with your doctor as soon as possible.
Ashley Nielsen earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration Marketing at Point Loma Nazarene University. She is a freelance writer who loves to share knowledge about general business, marketing, lifestyle, wellness, and financial tips. During her free time, she enjoys being outside, staying active, reading a book, or diving deep into her favorite music.