Magnified focal area over the warning information of a prescription medication

Top Tips For Dealing with Medication Side Effects

Authored By: Mark Rogers, Pharm. D

So you started a new medication that your doctor says you really need to be taking. The problem is, the side effects of the drug are less an ideal. You’re having stomach cramps. Or diarrhea. Or your heart is racing. So what’s the best way to manage them?

Let’s first take a step back. Adverse medication side effects are the secondary or unintended effects of a drug. They can range from mild but manageable, to severe and life-altering. The are unfortunately all too common and are a leading cause for medication non-adherence. Fortunately, side effects often resolve on their own after a few days or weeks. Below is some advice for lessening, or at least dealing, with them.

  • Read up on the drug’s common side effects. This way you have a better idea of what symptoms to watch out for. This will help rule in or rule out if the what you’re experiencing really is due to the medication.


  • Record and keep track of any out-of-the-ordinary symptoms you are having. Side effects occur more often in the first few days and weeks after starting a new medication. Keeping a record of suspected side effects can be helpful if you decide to speak with your doctor about how you’re feeling. 


  • Speak to your doctor. It is important to keep them updated about how you’re tolerating a drug. If you have followed the first two steps, it can strengthen your case that the symptoms really are due to the drug. Also, since there are often several options available to treat a condition, you may tolerate one option better than others. So keep your doctor in the loop!


  • Some side effects, like upset stomach, diarrhea, or headaches can be managed until the side effects (hopefully) start to wear off. The use of common over-the-counter medications can help lessen some of common, and temporary, symptoms. But remember, if you are experience more severe effects from a medication, please contact and consult the prescriber.


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