Mr. Rakesh Bansal was just browsing through the newspaper when he developed a severe pain on his chest. He gave a loud cry to his wife, who rushed in the living room and called up their family doctor. The doctor was surprised to hear from Mr. Bansal’s wife and asked them to immediately come to the hospital. It was later diagnosed as a mild heart attack. Rakesh was a known patient of Hypertension for the last 1 year for which he was prescribed regular antihypertensive medicines. But he would always experience light-headedness or dizziness on taking his medications. For this reason, he used to take medications on and off. He had skipped his medications for the last two months without informing his doctor.
All medicines are prescribed at an appropriate dose, known as the therapeutic dose, have benefits and are non-toxic to the body. But most of these medicines also react in our body at organs other than the targeted sites, to cause side effects (Aka Adverse Drug Reactions).
The potential of a particular medicine to cause adverse reactions and the profile of these reactions is dictated by the choice of drugs. Aspirin and other analgesics can cause peptic ulcers and gastritis; Oral contraceptives can blood disorders. Similarly, there are serious and non-serious side effects of all medicines.
The beneficial effects of medicines are a result of a complex reaction between the medicine, patient, disease and other factors that modify drug response.
Therefore, most side effects can be avoided by complete knowledge of the patient’s profile, his disease and the drug chosen for his treatment. Some other
adverse effects like allergy to Sulfonamides group of antibiotics cannot be predicted. This is due to altered genetic factors and physiological variables
like age, sex, consumption of alcohol, smoking, etc. Thus, the side effect of same medication can be different in each individual.
Such variable side effects can be managed by a doctor only if the patients report them. Subsequently, it will reduce suffering and cost of medication. The doctor will reduce the dose, stop the drug, switch over to another drug or add a new drug to combat side effects.
It is the duty of a doctor to warn the patient about all possible and important reactions, particularly those that may imply discontinuation of the drug by a patient. However, it is the duty of a patient to report to doctor in case of an unwanted effect of a medicine. These side-effects can also be reported to the National Helpline Number- 1800 1803024 which is maintained by the Pharmacovigilance programme of India . This helps doctors analyze the side effects, compile a data and pass regulatory notices for major side-effects.
If you think you or someone in your family has experienced a side-effect to a medicine, do not hesitate to report it!