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Side effects are potential conditions that may result from taking various medications, having vaccinations, or having different types of treatments like chemotherapy. Each medication, whether swallowed or injected has its own list of side effects. Also, some medications have issues which may occur when used in conjunction with other medical treatment or if certain other conditions are present. The degree to which a person is likely to develop these problems is based on studies on medical treatments, which show the rate or percentage of people who developed them.
It’s important to understand that while most medications have a veritable laundry list of side effects, these tend to be rarely experienced, experienced for a short period of time, or not ever experienced by people who use the medications. Yet now the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires all medicines to list all possible problems, contraindications, and possible conflicts if other conditions are present or if a person takes other medications. You’ll notice in magazine advertisements for drugs there is extensive information about side effects, and even on television, you’ll hear a list of possible problems at the end of each ad, and even some contraindications; for example, women over 35 who smoke are advised not to use hormonal birth control.
The list can seem daunting to someone who needs to make a decision about whether a certain drug treatment is right for them. You may need to do some research to find out how likely any of these effects are to occur, which is usually based on percentage. However, it’s also important to understand that risk of any particular side effect may be outweighed by the benefit of taking a medication. For instance, a side effect of the bipolar and seizure medication Tegretol® (carbamazepine) is hair loss, which is pretty commonly experienced by people who take the medication. Yet, if Tegretol® effectively treats your bipolar condition, it is often worth the hair loss to continue this treatment.
You may see, in drug advertisements, different sets of problems. For example, people may experience mild, serious or severe types of effects from drugs. In rare cases, some people have allergic reactions to medications or life threatening reactions that need to be listed so people can be alert to any potential warning signs of dangerous conditions emerging. In any prescription you obtain, you’re likely to be given information on a separate paper, which explains all the potential mild, moderate, severe or life-threatening hazards that you may encounter. Again, realize these effects, especially those that are life threatening, occur with great infrequency. If they occurred often enough to cause multiple deaths or severe medical damage, the FDA would weigh the benefits of keeping these medications available, and would likely remove the drugs from the market pending further investigation.