Taking Medicines

Frequently Asked Questions

17. What are side effects?

Side effects are unwanted or unexpected symptoms or feelings that occur when you take medicine. Side effects can be relatively minor, such as a headache or a dry mouth. They can also be life-threatening, such as severe bleeding or irreversible damage to the liver or kidneys.

Stomach upset, including diarrhea or constipation, is a side effect common to many medications. Often, this side effect can be lessened by taking certain drugs with meals. However, check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist first because food can decrease the absorption of certain medications.