Side Effects of Medicine: Care Instructions

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Medicines are a big part of treatment for many health problems. But all medicines have side effects. Often these are mild problems. They might include a dry mouth or upset stomach. But sometimes medicines can cause dangerous side effects. One example is a bad allergic reaction.

If you have a serious side effect from a medicine, you may need to stop taking it. You may also need to take another medicine to treat the side effect. If you have a mild side effect, it may go away after you take the medicine for a while.

The doctor has checked you carefully, but problems can develop later. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, get medical treatment right away.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Be safe with medicines. Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • Call your doctor if side effects bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking a medicine. Your doctor may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless a doctor tells you to.
  • Make sure your doctor has a list of all the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Ask about side effects.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You think you are having a new problem with your medicine.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.