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What are the most common side effects of all medications?

The most common side effects of prescription drugs -- regardless of the type -- are drowsiness, allergic reactions, nausea and vomiting and heart problems, such as heart palpitations.

There are some medications, however, that can cause side effects that are wildly different from those common side effects.
Suzy  Cohen
Pharmacy
Common side effects of prescription drugs, including fatigue, nausea and hair loss, are a direct result of the drugs you are taking. Watch as pharmacist Suzy Cohen, RPh, explains how your medications are stealing important nutrients from your body.
When we talk of side effects of medications, there are some that are sort of universal (almost all drugs can cause these side effects) and there are some that are usually specific to an individual drug. Any drug can:
  • Cause allergic reactions (rash, hives, swelling of the lips and tongue) -- Almost any drug can cause an allergic reaction. Virtually anything you take and anything you drink can cause an allergic reaction. Sometimes, it's the medication. Sometimes, it's the binder inside the medications. All the little tablets are held together by stuff, and sometimes people have a reaction to that. Rash and hives are fairly common. As doctors, the one that worries us a lot is swelling of the lips or tongue. So if you feel like that's happening, we need to know right away and we need to stop the medication.
  • Cause gastrointestinal (GI) side effects -- GI side effects are common and the problem is that the patient sometimes attributes a side effect to the medication. So it's worth giving somebody a call and letting him or her know that you're having a GI side effect so you can try to tease out if it is really the medication or if you are having some other problem.
  • Work too well -- Too much of a good thing isn't so good. Sometimes, the medications work too well. We don't want that to happen. So you can get an undereffect, but you can also get an exaggerated overeffect.
  • Have effects on other organs -- especially the kidneys and liver.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.