Yes, You can Manage Medication Side Effects
Most medications come with minor side effects that many people never even notice. However, some side effects are not minor, and they certainly do not go unnoticed. If you’re struggling to continue your normal way of life due to medication side effects, here are four ways you can conquer them.
First, make sure you understand the possible side effects associated with your prescribed medication. Knowing which side effects are normal can help you determine if you are experiencing a common side effect or something more serious. If you experience a side effect that you were not warned about by your doctor or pharmacist, seek medical attention right away.
Many side effects are uncomfortable, but not life-threatening. Secondary medications can treat problems such as dry mouth, nausea, dizziness or constipation. If you know that your medication causes you to feel nauseous, be prepared by having a soothing remedy on hand. Ask your doctor about taking an over-the-counter anti-nausea medication. Also, stock up on stomach-settling snacks or beverages, such as crackers or ginger ale to take with your medication.
If your medication causes constipation, drink plenty of water and take a fiber supplement. If dizziness is the problem, be sure to take your medication while sitting down, and remain seated until the side effect has passed. Some medications can be taken before bed so that the side effects occur while you are sleeping. By preparing for the known side effects, you can greatly decrease the duration of the problem and the toll it takes on your daily life.
Some side effects might seem minor or are embarrassing. But it’s important to be open and honest with your doctor. Even when taking something as common as over-the-counter pain medications, report any unexpected medication side effects. A side effect is often a sign of a problem that your doctor should know about and can treat. Your doctor might also adjust your dosage to accommodate your condition and better control for your side effects.
Ask For an Alternative
Many treatment options exist for nearly every condition. And there are often several different medications suited to treat the same disorder. If your present medication is giving you trouble, ask your doctor about an alternative. There may be a suitable medication with different or fewer side effects. Everyone responds differently to each medication.
Make Small Changes
Sometimes our daily habits can worsen side effects. For example, if you’re taking a blood thinner like Coumadin, it’s important to avoid eating leafy greens and other foods high in vitamin K. Supplements can also be bothersome. Ginseng can elevate blood levels of digoxin by as much as 75%, while St. John’s Wort decreases blood levels of this drug by 25%. Other medications might cause adverse side effects if you drink alcohol, drink caffeine or smoke. Ask your doctor about what you can do to reduce side effects by making small dietary or lifestyle changes.
Side effects are often unpredictable. Some people experience many, while others taking the same drug experience none. Unfortunately, you can’t control how your body will respond to a particular medication. However, you can improve your chances of living side-effect-free by educating yourself about the drugs you’re taking and their potential side effects. Most importantly, keep your doctor up to date so you can work together to improve your quality of life while taking the medication.