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How to Discuss Medication Side Effects With Your Doctor

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For many, taking medication is an important part of controlling and easing certain conditions and diseases, and there’s just no way many of us could go without it. But certain medications can cause side effects (which your doctor may refer to as an adverse reaction) while treating and controlling diseases.

Like the disease itself, these side effects shouldn’t be ignored. This issue isn’t simply isolated to prescriptions, either. Even over-the-counter medications that your doctor may recommend can cause side effects, from things like drowsiness to dry mouth and stomach troubles. And while you may think that because you’re treating the main problem you just have to deal with the side effects that come from medication, that’s not necessarily the case.

Why You Should Talk to Your Doctor About Side Effects

In fact, if you’re having side effects from one or a group of medications, your doctor is going to want to know about it to ensure that the reaction you’re having doesn’t expand into something more serious that could pose a risk to your health. For example, if a medication is making you drowsy, there may be concerns around dozing off while driving. If you’re suffering from dry mouth, your doctor will want to make sure you’re comfortable enough to eat so that you don’t become at risk for choking while eating (due to a lack of moisture in your mouth) or developing tooth decay.

By mentioning to your doctor any and all side effects you may be having, no matter how small they may seem, you open the door for your doctor to possibly alter your dosage or have you try a new prescription entirely. In cases like medication-induced dry mouth, you may be able to continue your current treatment with the help of an over-the-counter product like Biotene Dry Mouth Oral Rinse, which helps to moisturize, soothe, and relieve dry mouth symptoms for up to four hours1.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor When You Start a New Medication

The National Institute on Aging has a number of questions you should ask your doctor when taking a new medication, from the appropriate dosage to the length of time you should be on certain prescriptions. (You can see the full list of questions here.) When it comes to the side effects of medications, make sure you ask your doctor the following:

  • Will this medicine cause problems or side effects if I am taking other medications?
  • What side effects should I expect? What should I do if I have a problem?
  • Should I take the medicine with food or not? Is there anything I should not eat or drink when taking this medicine?

You may think your medication’s side effects are completely isolated to you alone, but chances are they are fairly common. Dry mouth in particular is one of the long-standing complaints of certain medications, and talking to your doctor about it can help you get faster relief while still managing your health through your medications.

1 As measured in a 28-day clinical study

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