Side effects are undesirable but natural and expected consequences of taking a particular drug. They are sometimes quite minor such as having a dry mouth or constipation while taking belladonna. A serious side effect may include excessive bleeding caused by the use of an anticoagulant to reduce the clotting capacity of the blood. Such drugs are usually prescribed to avoid the risk of developing clots in the lower limbs.
A step further from side effects is an adverse reaction. An adverse reaction is an unusual and unexpected reaction and it can be minor, major or dangerous. A drug induced allergic reaction, for example, is one type of adverse reaction. An example of minor adverse reaction is hives caused by taking penicillin. This same drug can also lead to a life threatening shock reaction.
Some of the drugs and the side effects/adverse reactions attributed to them are:
Type of drug - Side/Adverse effects
- Analgesics, anti inflammatory – Heartburn, nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, stomach or intestinal bleeding, constipation, diarrhea, headache, drowsiness, dizziness, skin rash, hives, itching
- Cephalosporins – Secondary infections, which may result in rectal and vaginal itching; diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, skin rash, itching, hives
- Erythromycins – Secondary infections, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and rarely, skin rash or irritation
- Tetracyclines – Secondary infections, skin rash, photosensitivity, appetite loss, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, sore tongue, mouth or throat, damage to teeth in infancy
- Anticonvulsants (epileptic seizures) – Staggering, confusion, slurred speech, vision changes, skin rash, swollen gums, nausea, vomiting, constipation, hepatitis
- Antidiabetics (Oral) – Skin rash, heartburn, jaundice, bone marrow depression; overdose may even result in abnormally low blood sugar
- Antihistamines – Drowsiness, fatigue, weakness, dry nose, mouth or throat, headache, nervous agitation, double vision, reduced appetite, nausea, vomiting, reduced tolerance for contact lenses
- Antihypertensives – Low blood pressure, impotence, fainting or lightheadedness in general. As there are a lot of different hypertensive drugs, their side effects are also varied
- Beta blockers (for high BP) – Fatigue, cold hands and feet, dizziness, skin rash, appetite loss, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, indigestion, vivid dreams, hallucinations, depression, wheezing, heart failure
- Diuretics (for increased urination) – Lightheadedness, dizziness, increased blood sugar and uric acid levels, muscle weakness and cramps, skin rash, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice and, rarely, bone marrow depression
- Anti Ulcer medications – Dizziness, headache, skin rash, diarrhea, muscle pain, tremors, irregular heartbeat, breast swelling and tenderness in men and rarely, lowered white blood cell count
- Thyroid hormones – Overdose may cause heat sensitivity, excessive sweating, skin rash, menstrual problems, tremors, irritability, insomnia, rapid and irregular heartbeat, chest pain, diarrhea, weight loss
- Tranquillizers – Drowsiness, lethargy, confusion, unsteadiness, fainting, skin rash, blurry vision, slurred speech, nausea, changes in libido
- Xanthine bronchodilators – nervousness, irritability, insomnia, headache, skin rash, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, rapid and irregular heartbeat, excitability, muscle spasms, convulsions
The reason for these side effects is that most of these drugs have chemicals that have certain toxic properties. These conventional drugs are made from one isolated or synthesized active ingredient so each one does only one job and this generally causes side effects. This is why there have been so many prescription drugs that got pulled from the market after enjoying several years of FDA approval.
The sad thing is that very few doctors nowadays bother to inform patients about possible side effects due to close and cozy relationships with the pharmaceutical industries.
Half of the truth is that pharmaceutical companies will only tell doctors as much as they want to and not reveal the complete picture. Therefore, the doctors are not completely to blame because they cannot warn patients against side effects of chemicals they are not aware of.
The trouble is that the business is so profitable is that these medicine manufacturers are more concerned with profits and FDA approval rather than the overall effect on the patients.
This is one reason why several doctors are now beginning to recommend complementary alternative treatments, like herbal therapies and medicines.
In fact, the number of herbal remedies available for different ailments equals (if not exceeds) the number of regular drug treatments provided by pharmaceutical companies. The point is that prevention always was and always will be better than any cure, mainstream or alternative.
The advantage of herbal remedies is that they move an individual towards a lifestyle more geared toward prevention and cure in the early stages of any affliction. Herbalists use the whole herb, because the dominant ingredient seems to work more effectively, without side-effects, and for the benefit of the whole body. This is known as synergy.
Pharmaceutical drugs work only after the problem has development, they do not try to prevent problems because then the manufacturing companies would go into a loss. This is where herbal remedies leave the mainstream drugs behind. This is also the reason why so many people are daily turning to herbal therapies.
Herbal remedies treat the cause of the disease and not the symptoms (like conventional drugs).
What is good to know about natural herbal remedies is that they are much more well-tolerated than clinical drugs, hence causing fewer side effects. If you are prone to experiencing side effects when you take conventional drugs, natural herbal remedies may just be the solution that you seek.
Natural herbal remedies also tend to be much cheaper than drug remedies as they are grown and not cultivated inside a laboratory.