As many as 70% of seniors make mistakes when taking their medications. This can lead to an increased risk for prescription drug side effects, or worse. It’s estimated that about 18 million emergency room visits are caused by harmful reactions to drugs. Added to these frightening statistics is the fact that an adverse drug event can lower a medication’s effectiveness.
What’s been happening here? How do scientists determine if a medication is safe? Spanish researchers recently delved into this controversial subject when they looked at drugs and how best to design safer ones. The researchers began by looking at the molecular structure of a large group of drugs. Of the 1,162 side effects determined for these drugs, 446 could be explained solely on the basis of biology (the effects they caused in the body) and 68 only on the basis of their chemistry (the chemicals they are made from). Another 648 needed both biological and chemical considerations to determine why side effects might occur.
The researchers are working on ways of mapping biological and chemical interactions of drugs that could potentially cause adverse effects. They hope to pass on this list to doctors and pharmaceutical companies to alert them of the danger of unexpected side effects.
While the researchers work at making medication a safer treatment for everyone, here are five tips to reduce your risk for prescription drug side effects.
- Find a good pharmacy and stick with them. Have all your prescriptions filled at this pharmacy so that all your medical information is kept in one place. This way you can develop a relationship with your pharmacist and keep the lines of communication open. Ask questions about your meds if there is anything you’re unsure about.
- Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicine you’re taking. This means herbal extracts, supplements, as well as prescription medications. Give your doctor time to process this information and make sure that you aren’t setting yourself up for some unpleasant side effects due to the interaction of one or more medicines.
- Follow the directions on medication closely. Don’t under-dose or up the dose yourself. Talk to your doctor first.
- Allergic reactions may be rare, but you need to know what your sensitivities are. Your healthcare provider should know too. There may be “cross-sensitivity” between one known allergen and another substance with a similar chemical structure. Your doctor should be able to help you in this regard.
- Most importantly, write down any side effects that you experience. Take note of the time of the side effect, exactly what happened in your body, and what medications you took preceding the side effect(s).
Source(s) for Today’s Article:
Duran-Frigola, M., et al., “Insights into Drug Side Effects,” Chembiol 2013.