Know about Adverse Drug Reactions and ways to minimize it

Do you take medicines for any complication without consulting the doctor? Do you stop taking medicines abruptly whenever the symptoms go away? Never do this and you must be cautious while using any medication because you may be affected by ADRs. Read this article to know more about ADRs and ways to minimize it.


Are you suffering from a headache and searching the internet to find the best medicine for it? Do you take medicines for instant relief without a valid prescription? There are many people in our country who take non-prescribed medicines for minor ailments. Especially, people staying in villages and remote places visit a medicine shop, tell their problems and the shopkeeper give them the 'correct' medicine for their ailments. This is going on and though medicine shops cannot sell most of the medicines without a prescription the rules are not strictly implemented everywhere. There are over the counter drugs which can be purchased without a prescription but many people are not aware of the drugs and restrictions associated with them and they insist the medicine stores provide them with the medicine.

While it is essential to take drugs for serious ailments, there are a few ailments which heal up automatically without using any drug. Common cough and cold is one such example. If it is mild, medication is not required. There are a few people who become dependent on drugs after its prolonged use. Whatever may be the reason, you must use drugs which are prescribed by a therapist and with caution.

Adverse Drug Reaction

In general, Adverse Drug Reaction (ADR) is the undesirable and dangerous effects the drug produce after being administered to a patient. The term is somewhat similar to the associated side effects of using a particular drug but they are not the same thing. For example, a mild headache or dizziness, which is manageable, maybe the side effects of using a particular drug but ADR is more specific and focuses on the undesirable and damaging effects of a particular drug. If you look into the literature that comes with the medicines, you will find that it contains a list of possible side effects while using the drug. It is not necessary that everybody will be affected because it varies from person to person depending on the level of tolerance and other factors. It is always better to be aware of the adverse effects when the medicine is administered for the first time. For certain drugs, you may find the adverse effects classified as mild, moderate, severe and lethal and it is always better to talk to your therapist even if the reaction is mild. There are many medicines which if used for a long time adversely affects the system. For example, certain prescribed painkillers if taken for a long time can cause severe gastrointestinal problems and even liver or kidney failure. Though doctors do not advise patients to take those drugs for a long time, there are patients who abuse it and continue taking them without consulting the doctors. This is dangerous and must be avoided.

How to know if it's ADR

You may not notice the mild adverse effects of the drugs, but whenever you notice it you should immediately take remedial measures by consulting with your therapist. If you notice certain changes in your behaviour or health after starting the medication it should not be neglected. The adverse reactions may start immediately or after a couple of days but as soon as you notice it, report it to your therapist. You do not have any idea about the internal mechanism of the body so do not try to experiment with it. You must have noticed the warning labels in bold fonts on the medicine box that says the medicine cannot be sold without a prescription and if certain symptoms occur after administering the drug you must discontinue using it immediately. It may take some time to conclude whether the particular adverse effect is the result of long term use of a drug, short term effects are easier to identify. There is a tendency among a few people to neglect the discomfort thinking them as a possible adverse effect. Since you do not know whether it is any adverse effect of using the drug or a new health issue you must immediately consult with your doctor.

ADRs can be classified based on the occurrences among patients using the drugs. It may be dose-dependent, allergic, delayed reactions or withdrawal symptoms.

Dose-dependent effects

ADRs may be dose-related and if the dosage is reduced the symptoms also reduce. One such example of dose-related ADR is Bradycardia or Slow heart rate which may occur when Beta blockers are taken to reduce blood pressure. By adjusting the dosage of the drugs it can be reduced within limits.

Allergic reactions

There are certain ADRs which are people specific. There are people who are allergic to certain drugs and this must be disclosed to the doctor. Many people are allergic to Penicillin or Sulpha drugs though it is not limited to only these two groups. When you know you are allergic to a specific drug let your family members and doctor know about it so that they can take necessary preventive measures while administering medicines to you.

Delayed reactions

There are ADRs which may occur after continuing the drugs for a long time and happens mainly because of the accumulation of the substances in our body. If analgesics are used for a long time it can lead to Nephropathy or complications in kidneys. Never take a drug for a long time without the supervision of a doctor and it is better to ask the doctor about the adverse effects of drugs when prescribed for prolonged use.

Withdrawal effects

Many drugs have withdrawal effects and the dosage need to be tapered before completely stopping its use. Phenytoin, which is an anticonvulsant, must be continued according to the prescription because if it is suddenly stopped the patient may have seizures. Many patients discontinue drugs just after the symptoms are gone which must be avoided. There are many psychotropic drugs if withdrawal abruptly adversely affects the patients. While using these drugs, patients and their family members must be very cautious and consult the doctor immediately if there is a sudden change in the behaviour of patients.


The manifestation of adverse effects varies from person to person. Few people may show complicated symptoms and others may not show any symptoms at all after using the specific drug. It depends on the tolerance of the person and individual reactions to certain medications. Children and elderly patients show more acute symptoms than others. Pregnant women and lactating mothers must be extremely cautious while using drugs because in those cases the mother and the baby both are affected by the drugs. While nobody should use medications unless prescribed by a registered medical practitioner you must disclose all your complications, previous and present, to help the practitioner choose the appropriate medicines for you.

Article by Sankalan Bhattacharya
Sankalan "Life is easier when you enjoy what you do"

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