I will introduce this article on adverse drug reactions by citing a statement credited to a representative of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NAFDAC)…….

“Medicines are double-edged sword that can have tremendous benefits or untoward effects on our health.”

The untoward effects here are caused by adverse drug reactions.

Adverse drug reactions are the unintended or undesired effect of a prescribed drug which occurs at doses normally used for treatment, prevention or diagnosis of diseases. It is not predictable. This is according to the World Health Organisation.

Image result for adverse drug reactions
drugs. credit: baptist health

It is different from side-effects which is the predicted though unintended effect of a drug that occurs at therapeutic doses and it is related to the pharmacological properties of a drug. When a side-effect is above the expected/predicted, it becomes an adverse drug reaction(ADR).

Adverse drug reactions are cause of morbidity, economic burden on both the patient, hospital and country from prolonged hospital litigations and deaths world-wide. How do we prevent adverse drug reactions? The compiled work from researches below may help.

Image result for adverse drug reactions-steven johnson syndrome. Credit : salient health

 how to prevent adverse drug reactions

  • Preventing adverse drug reactions starts with seeing the doctor when you are sick
  • The right diagnosis must be made by the doctor and appropriate drugs prescribed
  • Ensure you know the name of the drugs, the dosages, and the duration you the supposed to take them
  • If the prescription is not clear, seek clarification from your doctor-ask questions
  • Do not experiment with drugs
  • Avoid self-medications
  • Insist on knowing the side effects or adverse effects of prescribed drugs before taking them
  • Avoid seeing multiple prescribers
  • Some drugs are safer when taken alone. If you need to combine drugs, consult your doctor. This is to avoid drug-drug reaction; a cause of adverse drug reactions
  • Take drugs only when you are sick
  • Do not take expired drugs- check the expiry dates of drugs before taking them. Expired drugs cause adverse drug reactions.
  • Medications like anti-cancer, psychoactive drugs must be taken under supervision
  • Drugs that can be tolerated orally should not be given via injections
  • Buy your drugs at designated pharmacies not in chemist shops
  • Mentally ill patients should take drugs under supervision
  • Ensure you do not buy fake drugs
  • Missed doses should remain missed. Do not combine it with the next dosage
  • The doctor should ensure he/she minimizes the number of drugs prescribed to a patient at a time. Avoid polypharmacy
  • The aged and elderly should take drugs under close supervision- they are prone to dementia and forgetfulness
  • Do not take drugs beyond the stipulated duration i.e. if the prescription says take drugs for 2 weeks, then it should not exceed 2 weeks
  • Know the symptoms and signs of adverse drug reactions and watch out for them
  • Reduce patronage of over-the-counter drugs
  • The doctor should ensure to start prescriptions with the smallest doses as much as possible
  • Drugs should be properly labelled.
  • Do not take drugs with alcohol.
  • What drugs do you react to? Please know them
  • Cases of adverse drug reactions must be reported promptly
  • Keep all medicines away from reach of children
  • Persons with kidney or liver diseases should watch the drugs they take
  • Keep drugs properly in the right environment-temperature, light and humidity must be taken into consideration
  • Special consideration should be given pregnant women during prescription
  • Drugs must be taken via the right routes
  • Do not patronize quacks

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