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On Managing Drug Side-Effects

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Medications tend to have untoward reactions. Here are three strategies medical practitioner do to control some common undesirable effects.

A drug side-effect ranges to unnoticeable to harmful reactions. From drowsiness – normal reaction of cold remedies, some undesirable effect can be life threatening like the Steven Johnson syndrome – an unpleasant response from taking the antibiotic Co-trimoxazole.

Physicians keep medical records of their patients to observe these untoward responses. Normally, if allergies or stomach pains are seen, they automatically avoid prescribing the suspected medication to the complainant. For instance, if they found Amoxicillin antibiotic causing allergies to the patient, they prescribe Erythromycin instead.

A drug side-effect is something to consider. However, most doctors can manage some of these nowadays. The following are three simple strategies:

  • Counteracting a drug side-effect

An example is Carbocistein, a mucolytic, a good drug of choice for wet coughs. This medicine has a special precaution for asthmatic people for it can trigger asthma attacks. As a solution, doctors prescribe this drug with an anti-asthma drug like the Salbutamol. The Salbutamol contradicts the side-effect of Carbocisteine without altering the desired effect of the drug.

Another one is the Mefenamic with Ranitidine. Mefenamic is a NSAID (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) same like Naproxen and Ibuprofen. These pain relievers can cause GI disturbances, peptic ulcer or GI bleeding. But since Ranitidine is an H2 antagonist that can inhibit acid production, this drug can be a preventive or relief for the GI symptoms associated with the use of NSAIDs.

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  • Time consideration

Anti-allergy drug like Cetirizine ( Virlix) causes drowsiness. Some multivitamins containing Buclizine also have the sleepy effect. Doctors manage this type of untoward effect by simply giving instructions to the patients to take these medications at night before going to sleep.

  • Taking advantage of a drug’s undesirable effect

Some medicines are being used for their side-effects. An example is Hydroxyzine (Iterax). This drug is normally prescribed as an anti-allergy, anti-itch remedy. But since it is an anti-histamine, Iterax is also used as a sleep-aid for its sedative side-effect.

Aspirin (Aspilet) 80mg is another citation. Some years ago, Aspilet was indicated for fever in children but because of its bleeding tendency and the incidence of Reye’s syndrome, Aspilets category as an analgesic/antipyretic was changed to antithrombotic drug. Nowadays, its untoward effect as an anticoagulant is being used for hypertensive patients in risk of heart attack and stroke.

Follow your doctor’s advice

There are people who do not mind their physician’s advice like taking their medicine on the right time or failing to buy a prescribed medication. Some tend to leave a drug behind not realizing that it could be a great essential for their condition. We have patients who ask a lot of questions regarding their medicine. If they found out that their doctor gave them an anti-allergy drug instead of a sleeping pill, they become hesitant from taking the medication.

Doctors have their own ways of formulating the proper medicine combination for the needs of their patients. They have their own reasons and managing drug side-effects are one of those.


  • PPDr Philippine Pharmaceutical Directory Review 5th edition
  • MIMS Online


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