Prescription Drug Side Effects

Written by Tara Peris
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Prescription drug side effects are sometimes more uncomfortable that the conditions they are intended to treat. When unprepared for the common side effects of a drug many patients stop taking their medication, or take it in an inconsistent manner and this will likely affect its efficacy. Such patient behavior requires the need for adequate education that ensure patients' adherence to the treatment and explains the benefit of taking their medication.

To be sure, medicines with unfavorable risk to benefit ratios rarely obtain FDA approval. The guiding principle of "first do no harm" screens out many such drugs. At the same time, for many severe medical conditions the only pharmaceutical options are those that carry their own adverse effects. These situations require doctors to weigh the gravity of the primary condition against prescription drug side effects when determining what is in a patient's best interests.

Common Prescription Drug Side Effects
Severe prescription drug side effects are not uncommon. For example, in some patients, lithium toxicity can cause renal failure. Alternately, many traditional anti-psychotic medications have impairing extra-pyramidal effects such as tardive dyskinesia, the disrupted motor condition observed in Parkinson's disease. These adverse effects lead many patients to stop taking their medications, which in turn, exacerbates their primary conditions.

These are, of course, extreme examples. Much more common prescription drug side effects include symptoms such as nausea, headaches, or dry mouth. Patients are likely to vary in their response to different side effects and in their general treatment compliance. To ensure their safety, it is critical that doctors and pharmacists discuss side effects carefully prior to prescribing any medication.


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