Understanding Medication side effects
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27 February 2024

Understanding Medication side effects

Understanding medication side effects is crucial for ensuring safe and effective treatment. Also known as adverse reactions, these unwanted effects can range from minor nuisances like a runny nose to severe events such as heart attacks or liver damage. 

Medication side effects: 

Prescription medications, while essential for treating various conditions, may come with side effects. All medicines, including antibiotics, can potentially trigger allergic reactions affecting around 5% of the population.  

Distinguishing whether a reaction is due to the medicine, or the illness can be challenging, and interactions between different medications further complicate matters. 

Complementary medicines side effects: 

Complementary medicines, often considered safer as they come from natural sources, can also cause side effects. Approximately 60% of Australians use these medicines annually, with misconceptions about their safety.   

Some herbal remedies, like Echinacea and Feverfew, can have potent effects, leading to reactions ranging from asthma attacks to uterine contractions. 

Seek Medical Advice: 

If you experience side effects, it’s crucial to act promptly. In emergencies, note the side effects and consult your doctor or pharmacist, who may need to adjust the medication. 

Prevent Side Effects: 

To reduce the risk of side effects: 

  • Take all medicines as prescribed. 
  • Seek advice from your pharmacist for over the counter or complementary medicines. 
  • Inform your doctor about all medicines, including supplements. 
  • Schedule an annual medication review, crucial for older individuals. 
  • Explore changes to minimize the need for medication. 
  • Return unused medicines for safe disposal. 
  • Utilize dosage aids to prevent errors in pill-taking. 


Being proactive and maintaining drug knowledge helps make your medical journey safer and more efficient.