Have you ever thought that you might not want to take a medication simply because the side effects sound worse than the benefits?
Medications today can be amazing. Many people’s lives are longer and more enjoyable due to our ability to treat ailments, from minor infections to more serious conditions such as heart disease. But with every medication, there is always the possibility of side effects.
Unfortunately it becomes such a concern for many, when presented with a long list of side effects, that they end up not actually taking their prescribed medication. Perspective can be helpful. Side effects can be classed into three groups: Common, uncommon and rare. If a side effect is listed as rare, it may have occurred once amongst 10,000 people taking the medication and thus is highly likely not to happen. So when faced with a list of scary side effects, ask your pharmacist which might actually be common. Even then, chances could be 1 in 100 that it occurs.
Often you can take action to circumnavigate a side effect. For example, codeine is very helpful for controlling pain. However a common side effect of this drug is constipation. By increasing the fibre in your diet, your water intake and ensuring you move as much as possible, this can be prevented. A kiwifruit each day has a laxative effect or mild laxative medications can be used.
Studies have shown that 40 percent of the diarrhoea induced by taking antibiotics can be prevented with probiotics. However which probiotic you take is important, so ask your pharmacist for guidance.
Statins are a class of medications that can be used very effectively to decrease cholesterol, but can also cause muscle tiredness by depleting the body’s reserves of CoQ10 (an enzyme used in the body to create energy). Studies indicate that supplementation of CoQ10 can have beneficial effects for muscle tiredness but further research is required.
Omeprazole is very helpful in decreasing stomach acid, when this is a problem. However, when taken over a period of time, it can lead to poor absorption of nutrients such as Vitamin B12 and magnesium. These too can be supplemented if necessary.
It’s true that pharmacists do count pills, but four years of university, 12 months internship and years of experience mean that we get to know a lot about medications. Which means when you have a question, we are eager to help.