Doing Life Together

medicine_on_a_handIf you have ever seen a TV commercial for a specific drug, you probably wonder why anyone would ever take that drug. The speed reading list of possible side effects is enough to stop most of us from even considering that drug. But the FDA requires that ads list the possible side effects of a medication.

All of this over warning can lead to overload and refusal to take medications even when they are needed. Fear can develop just knowing there is a possibility of problems.

About one-half to a third of people on drugs for chronic illness don’t take their medications because of fear of side effects.

But could those side effects be due to something other than the drug? Maybe  you are tired because you stayed up too late, or have a headache because you haven’t eaten in 6 hours. It’s true, we often attribute our health status to only the drugs, not the lifestyle or choices we are making.

Also, studies show that side effects can be imagined. Just knowing there is a possible side effect might make you think you have one or two. For example, if you know a medication has the side effect of tingling hands, you may start tingling. This is called the placebo effect. It feels real but it is related to your fear about taking the drug.

Listen, you have to take those side effects seriously. For example, a rash is not an imagined side effect. But check your fear level. Are you reacting to the fear of what could be and not taking a medication for that reason? This is especially important to ask when a life saving drug is involved.

If you are unsure, talk to your doctor. See if you could stop the medication for a few weeks to see if the symptoms go away. If they do, you may want to have a different medication prescribed. Work with your doctor on this rather than simply stopping. There is a balance between risk and benefit of taking certain drugs. Educate yourself but work together to develop a plan. Don’t allow fear to drive your decisions.

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