There is a plethora of reasons why someone might need to take medication. On average, more than half of all adults take up to four different medications each day – either over-the-counter or prescription medication – in order to prevent, treat or help relieve symptoms of certain illnesses, chronic diseases, infections, and more. Medications come in various forms, such as tablets and capsules, liquid, topical ointment, drops, inhalers, injections, patches, and suppositories.

Almost all medications come with a list of side-effects, and sometimes that list can be long. While many of the most commonly prescribed and OTC drugs are typically well-tolerated by most individuals, no two people are exactly the same and the body itself is very complex. As a result, some people may be much more sensitive to certain medications than others, which means there is a higher likelihood that they could experience side-effects from the medications they take. As for why side-effects occur, there are a number of reasons. For example, it’s not unusual to experience some side-effects when starting a new medication and until your body becomes better adjusted to it, which could take days, weeks, or in some cases, months. Alternatively, you can also experience side-effects when the dose of your medication is increased, or when you stop taking a medication that you have been on for a prolonged period of time (also known as withdrawal effects.)

The types of side-effects that someone experiences will depend on the type of drug they have been prescribed. When it comes to use of antibiotics, common side effects include things such as nausea, diarrhea, and yeast infections. If you’re on a pain reliever, you may notice stomach upset and nausea. If you’ve been prescribed an antidepressant, you may have trouble sleeping, feel agitated, or gain weight. If you’ve been prescribed a medication to help control your blood pressure or for your heart, you may experience drowsiness, dizziness, and loss of appetite. If you are on medication for diabetes, side-effects can also include nausea, fatigue, dizziness, as well as heartburn. If you’re on an antihistamine or type of decongestant, it’s also possible to experience nausea and/or vomiting, in addition to nervousness and sweating. While this isn’t a full list of every medication there is, or a full list of side-effects, these are generally the ones that are most frequently reported. If you are taking a medication and notice any side-effects, it’s always a good idea to make both your pharmacy and physician aware so that it can be noted on your file, as well as for your own peace of mind. If your side-effects persist for longer than they are supposed to, or if they worsen, you should consult with your physician as soon as possible as you may need to have your medication dosage adjusted or be prescribed a different medication all together.

When taking any medication, adverse reactions can also occur in a small number of people. While side-effects are often expected to possibly occur with certain medications, adverse reactions are not, and are characterized as an undesired harmful effect resulting from a medication or an unintended medical occurrence. As with side-effects, the types of adverse reactions that can occur depends on the medication itself. If you experience an adverse reaction to a medication, it’s important that you contact your pharmacy or physician right away.

It’s also possible for individuals to be allergic to certain medications. Among the most common medication that individuals are allergic to is an antibiotic known as Penicillin, which is used to treat bacterial infections. However, anyone can be allergic to any medication. The most common allergic response that individuals can have to medications include things like rash, hives, and itching, which can be treated with an over-the-counter antihistamine. In severe cases, the body can also go into what’s known as anaphylaxis – a severe (and potentially life-threatening) allergic reaction – resulting in things like wheezing, swelling of the tongue and/or throat, and trouble breathing. In the event that you have this type of allergy, you should call 911 right away. When this type of allergic reaction occurs, it is treated with epinephrine. While severe allergic reactions are rare, just like side-effects they are also possible. Depending on the type of medication you are allergic to, you may also need to avoid related medications. Always make sure your doctor and pharmacy are aware of which medications you are allergic to so that this can be well documented.