What To Do If You Experience An Adverse Reaction To Medication

Have you ever experienced a negative reaction after taking medication? If so, you are not alone. According to the World Health Organization WHO, adverse drug reactions account for approximately 5% of all hospital admissions and cause 3 to 7% of all hospitalisations in developed countries. This is a significant number, and it is essential to know what to do if you experience an adverse reaction.

Allergic reactions to medications are common, and can be stressful when you’re experiencing one. Queensland Anaesthetic Reaction Clinic discusses what you should do if you experience an adverse drug action in this article.

What is an Adverse Reaction to Medication?

An adverse reaction to medication occurs when your body has an unexpected or dangerous response to a particular drug. This can happen immediately after taking the medicine or even days later. Some reactions may be mild, like drowsiness or nausea, while others can be severe and life-threatening. 

Common Types of Adverse Reactions

There are different types of adverse reactions based on how your body reacts to the medication:

  • Allergic Reaction: This happens when your immune system overreacts to a particular drug, causing symptoms like hives, rash, itching, or swelling.
  • Idiosyncratic Reaction: This is a rare and unpredictable reaction that occurs when your body responds unusually to a medication.
  • Toxic Reaction: This happens when the dose of a drug exceeds the recommended amount, causing harm to your body.

What To Do If You Experience An Adverse Reaction?

If you experience an adverse reaction after taking medication, there are some steps you can take to ensure your safety and well-being.

  • Stop Taking the Medication

The first thing you should do is stop taking the medication immediately. If it is a severe or life-threatening reaction, seek medical attention right away. Otherwise, talk to your doctor before discontinuing the medication, as they may need to prescribe an alternative or adjust your dosage.

  • Seek Medical Help

If you experience a severe or life-threatening reaction, such as difficulty breathing, chest pain, or loss of consciousness, call for emergency medical services immediately. If your symptoms are not life-threatening but persist or worsen, contact your doctor for guidance.

  • Keep Track of Your Symptoms

It is crucial to keep track of your symptoms so that you can inform your doctor accurately. Document when the reaction occurred, the severity of your symptoms, and any changes or improvements over time. This information will help your doctor determine the cause of the reaction and provide appropriate treatment.

  • Identify the Trigger

If you have identified the medication that caused the adverse reaction, make note of it and avoid taking it in the future. Your doctor may also perform allergy testing to determine if you are allergic to any specific drugs.

  • Follow Up with Your Doctor

After experiencing an adverse reaction, it is essential to follow up with your doctor. They will review your symptoms, conduct further testing if necessary, and provide you with guidance on how to manage future medications safely.

Preventing Adverse Drug Reactions

While adverse reactions cannot always be avoided, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk:

  • Follow Dosage Instructions: Always take your medication as prescribed and do not alter your dosage without consulting your doctor.
  • Inform Your Doctor: Let your doctor know about any known allergies or previous adverse reactions you have had to medications.
  • Check for Interactions: Some medications can interact with each other, causing adverse reactions. Make sure to inform your doctor of all the medications you are taking, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements.
  • Be Aware of Side Effects: Familiarise yourself with the side effects of any medication before taking it. If you experience any concerning symptoms, consult your doctor.

Experiencing an adverse drug reaction can be scary, but knowing what to do can make a significant difference in your safety and well-being. Remember to stop taking the medication, seek medical help if necessary, and follow up with your medical care provider. By being cautious and informed, you can prevent future adverse reactions and ensure the safe use of medications in the future. Stay informed and stay safe! Contact us for more information.