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Side effects should be documented and reported so that Doctors and other care workers know how the client will react to certain types of medication and Doctors may be able to adjust medications to reduce these effects.  Serious effects may require activation of the emergency services.  

Examples of side effects include:

  • Rashes
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Swelling
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Stiffness
  • Shaking
  • Headaches
  • Drowsiness 
  • Constipation
  • Weight gain

We are now going to be looking at precautions and side effects. With regards to precautions, it's important that the medication is administered exactly the way it's prescribed. So, if a medication has to be taken with food, it's important that it's taken with food. Medication that's supposed to be with food that's taken without can cause problems with the stomach and can lead to a stomach ulcer. Also, some medication needs to be taken on an empty stomach, certain antibiotics, for example. It's important that the medication is taken on an empty stomach, because otherwise it may be absorbed into the bloodstream too quickly. Also, it can be destroyed by the stomach acids. It's important that we don't crush tablets because that can reduce the efficacy of the medication. Another point to remember is that medication can only be broken if there's a score mark on it.

So, when we look at the side effects of medication, if you ever look at an instruction leaflet you will notice that there are lots and lots of side effects. Any side effect that you can think of will probably be in one of the lists. Here are some of the most common side effects: Rashes, breathing difficulties, swellings, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stiffness, shaking, headaches, drowsiness, constipation, weight gain. When we are dealing with medication, it's important to be aware of your client or service user's base level. For example, if you gave somebody some medication and you noticed shortly after that their breathing had changed, this needs to be reported. But that could be the person's normal breathing, so that's why it's very important to know what your client or service user is usually like.

If you do notice any changes after any medication has been given, it's important to report this. You need to document it, report it to your line manager and, if necessary, let the GP know. Obviously, if the reaction is severe then you would need to call the emergency services. Some changes in an individual can be straightaway. So as soon as you give the medication you may notice a change. Some can be from a build-up of medication, so it's important to document even the slightest change.

Absorption, distribution, activity, metabolism and excretion. After being swallowed, medication passes into the stomach and into the bloodstream. It starts to distribute itself through the body. Liver enzymes break down the medication, medications are then excreted by the kidneys. So, with regard to precautions, you need to make sure that your client or service user is sitting or standing when taking their medication, so they're not taking it while walking along the corridor. Good hygiene practice is very important. You don't need to touch any medication. If for some reason you do, always wear gloves and wash your hands before and after. Tablets need to be taken with water. This ensures that they are washed down and not absorbed into the body too quickly. Always ensure that medication is given to the exact prescription; anything given outside of this could be damaging to your service user or client.