Medical drugs are far from safe and there are often adverse reactions in the body associated with taking medical drugs. Adverse drug reactions are reactions that are unintended or undesired. If you take or intend to take medically prescribed drugs you need to be aware of the potential for these reactions in the body. Many people believe that taking medical drugs is the only option open to them. However, in many situations, this is not the case and there are a wide range of effective alternatives that do not have the adverse reactions on many medical drugs.
There are five main groups into which these adverse reactions can be placed. Those that:
- adversely affect the blood cells,
- cause toxicity in the liver,
- damage the kidneys,
- affect the skin, and
- affect the unborn baby.
In addition to these groupings there are individual reactions such as:
- allergic reactions,
- drug interactions,
- destruction of vitamins and minerals,
- drug accumulation and so forth.
There are a number of factors that will influence the possibility of adverse drug reactions. These include:
- The number of drugs that a person is taking. The greater the number being taken the greater the likelihood that there will be an interaction between these drugs. The effects of these interactions are impossible to accurately determine – especially when the number of drugs taken exceeds two or three.
- Women, theoretically only require 3/4 of the male adult dose. This is related to the weight and metabolic Vendetta differences between men and women. Often this difference is not taken into account when women are prescribed drugs and when they take over-the-counter medications. This means that there could be an increased risk of adverse reactions for women.
- The age of the person taking the drugs is also influential. Babies, children and the elderly all require modifications to the full adult dose. This is due to their reduced ability to metabolise and detoxify the drugs. Dosages in these cases are related to their weight and age. Digitalis (digoxin) is a very toxic drug used in heart disease – its dosages are related to the person’s body weight.
The disease state itself can contribute to drug side effects. For example:
- Taking digitalis when a person has kidney problems can lead to the accumulation of the drug (because the kidneys are unable to get rid of it from the body) and this can lead to digitalis toxicity – a very serious situation.
- A low level of potassium in the presence of digitalis increases the sensitivity of the heart muscle to digitalis toxicity – again a very serious situation.
- The presence of liver diseases such as hepatitis (an inflammation of the liver) or cirrhosis (a chronic degenerative disease of the liver) can lead to the accumulation of the drugs that are normally detoxified by the liver.
- A person who has allergic reactions to other drugs, food, pollens, dust, or other substance may be more likely to have adverse reactions to drugs.
- People undergoing treatment for cancer will generally have toxic effects from that treatment – depending on the dose and the nature of the drugs used.
- Some people have individual reactions to particular drugs – because of the uniqueness of their genetic make up.
- The use of cigarettes, alcohol and tranquillizers plus other drugs increases the possibility of an adverse reaction to the drugs – because of the combined effects that these drugs have on the chemistry in the body.
Symptoms associated with adverse drug reactions can be divided into three groups:
- life threatening (as in an major allergic reaction – which unless dealt with immediately could be fatal),
- severe or
- irritating and uncomfortable.
The symptoms generally subside when the drug which caused the reaction is withdrawn. An allergic response (or hypersensitivity) to a drug forms the majority of side effects or adverse drug reactions. These allergic responses generally follow a particular pattern:
There is an initial exposure to the drug – this establishes the allergic reaction and a state in which the person is now allergic to that drug.
Once the allergic state has been established an allergic reaction can be started by even very small amounts of the drug that is responsible for the reaction. The allergic reaction will occur each time the drug is taken.
The reaction can lead to the following:
- skin rashes that can be itchy, flaky, purple spots or red and raised,
- nausea and vomiting and other gut reactions such as diarrhoea,
- tightness and swelling in the lungs and throat which can cause difficulty in breathing.