Are you concerned about possible side effects from your medication? Do you wonder if the medication is worth it? Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions on how to put side effects into perspective.
Where do those lists of side effects come from, anyway?
The lists of side effects you see in your medication leaflet are side effects that have been reported by people taking the medication (whether it is actually related to the medication or not) during clinical research both before and after the medication became available to the public. The medication's manufacturer is required to keep track of all side effects that occur and list them in the medication leaflet.
How do I know which side effects I will get?
Unfortunately, there's no way to know beforehand exactly which side effects you may experience. The list of side effects shown in your medication leaflet can give you some idea of the types of side effects you may experience. However, it's important to know that just because a side effect is listed doesn't mean you will experience it. The list includes everything that's happened to a large number of people (usually in the thousands) who have taken the medication, whether it is related to the medication or not. You may or may not experience any of these side effects.
Help! I'm not sure whether I should take my medication now that I've read the list of side effects. How can I decide what to do?
Concerned about possible side effects from your medication? You're not alone. Weighing the risks and benefits of treatment is part of being an informed patient.
In the end, it's up to you whether or not you decide to take the medication. But to make the decision that's best for you, you need to have the whole picture. Here's how to get the information you need for your decision:
- Get personal! The information sheet you get from your pharmacy or in your medication package will give you good general information about the risks and benefits of the medication. But you need to understand how these risks and benefits apply to you, specifically!
- Know your risks: Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about which side effects you are most likely to experience, and which side effects are most serious. Find out how likely it is that you may experience these side effects. Ask for specific numbers. For example, you could ask "If 100 people took this medication for a year, how many of them would experience this side effect?" Next, ask your doctor or pharmacist whether these side effects are temporary or permanent and how to manage them. Find out whether your medical history and whether you're pregnant or breast-feeding may change your risks.
- Know health benefits to you: The risks alone don't give you the whole picture. You'll also need to weigh the risks against the benefits you may receive from the medication. Ask your doctor or pharmacist what exactly the medication will do to help you. Will it relieve your symptoms? Will it prevent future complications? Will it slow down the progress of your disease? Find out how likely you are to experience these benefits, how much improvement you can expect, and when the medication is likely to start working.
- Find a balance: Now that you know the risks and benefits of the medication as they apply to you, you can weigh them against each other. Consider whether you'd consider taking the risk of the possible side effects in order to get the benefits. You can ask your doctor or pharmacist for help or an opinion if it will help with your decision.
If you're concerned about side effects and not sure whether you should take your medication, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about weighing the risks and benefits of the medication for you.
All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Drug-Safety