Television commercials for prescription drugs today are filled with disclaimers about the risks of side effects. All drugs – even aspirin – have side effects, but they range from minor and slightly irritating to very serious. According to pharmacist Jim Morelli, the most common side effects of medication involve the gastrointestinal system (such as upset stomachs). Fortunately, the FDA must approve all new drugs released on the market to protect consumers and weigh the benefits vs. risks of each medication. However, many side effects are not known until after the product has been released. Because of this, the FDA recently mandated that all dispensed prescriptions (as well as many over-the-counter medications) must be labeled with a toll-free number. This number gives anyone the opportunity to report adverse effects they experience from taking the medication.
The risk of side effects alone should not discourage people from taking medicine that is necessary for their health, so talk to your doctor or pharmacist about any potential effects of prescriptions you’ve been taking. He or she can explain the benefits vs. risks of each drug and show you how to prevent certain irritating symptoms such as dry mouth. If you do happen to notice adverse effects from your prescriptions, it is important to tell your doctor because he or she can help you find a different prescription that works best for your body and your overall health.