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Adverse Reactions to Medicines

Adverse reactions to medicines include side effects, reactions between two or more medicines or herbal supplements, reactions between a food and a medicine, overmedication, and addiction. A reaction can range from mild to severe. Most adverse reactions are not serious.

A drug allergy is a serious type of adverse reaction, because it involves the body's defense system (immune system). It is important for your doctor to find out whether you have a drug allergy or another type of adverse reaction. You have more treatment options if your reaction is not because of an allergy.

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Questions for the Doctor About Your New Prescription

What is the prescription? Why do I need this drug? What will this drug do for me? How much do I take, how often, and for how long? Does it matter what time of day I take this drug? What side effects should I watch for? What should I do if I have a bad reaction? How will this drug interact with other prescription or over-the-counter drugs I am taking? How will this drug interact with vitamins, herbal supplements, or foods? If I feel better before I finish the prescr...

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Symptoms of adverse reactions are often the same as a drug allergy. Symptoms of an adverse reaction include:

Don't assume any symptom is a normal side effect of a medicine. Call your doctor or pharmacist anytime you suspect that your medicines are making you sick. Make sure that your doctor and pharmacist have a complete list of all the prescription and nonprescription medicines and herbal supplements you are taking.

For more information, see the topic Dealing With Medicine Side Effects and Interactions.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Theresa O'Young, PharmD - Clinical Pharmacy
Last Revised March 9, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 09, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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