Q:

What are side effects?

A:

Side effects are unwanted results of using certain medication, as defined by NHS Choices. All medicines have side effects, which are also termed as adverse reactions. It is crucial for patients to take all medicine exactly as prescribed to avoid complications.

The FDA says that the risks of using drugs range from less serious effects, such as stomach upset, to severe complications, such as liver damage. The organization approves drugs for marketing and selling only if their benefits outweigh adverse effects.

According to WebMD, the chemical nature of some medications determines whether or not their side effects are avoidable. For instance, iphenhydramine, an anti-allergy drug, cannot perform its function without undermining the activity of acetylcholine, a natural chemical in the body; this causes drowsiness and dry mouth as side effects. Other drugs may have undetectable adverse reactions. For example, the anti-clotting agent Warfarin is generally well tolerated in the body, but it can potentially cause severe internal bleeding.

The FDA advises that individuals review drug-safety information before starting any medication. Such information is available on a product’s label or package. Patients may also talk with a pharmacist or healthcare provider about a drug’s potential side effects. NHS Choices recommends that medical attention be sought as soon as possible in the event that a person suffers serious allergic reactions to medication.


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