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Adverse drug reaction: Potential risk factors

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There are various factors that increases the risk for an adverse drug reaction. The hereditary factors can make some individuals prone to the toxic effects of certain medications. There are also certain diseases that can alter the drug absorption, metabolism, elimination as well as the bodily reaction.

What are the usual risk factors for an adverse drug reaction?

Using several medications

Using several medications whether over-the-counter or prescription can add up to the risk of experiencing an adverse drug reaction. The frequency and severity of an adverse drug reaction intensifies unreasonably as the number of drugs taken increases.

The consumption of alcohol which is also a drug also increases the risk. Consulting a doctor or pharmacist to occasionally assess all the drugs taken and make the necessary adjustments can minimize the risk for an adverse drug reaction.


Adverse drug reaction
Using several medications whether over-the-counter or prescription can add up to the risk of experiencing an adverse drug reaction.

Babies and young children are at high risk for an adverse drug reaction since their capacity to metabolize medications is not yet fully developed. Take note that newborns cannot metabolize and eliminate antibiotics specifically chloramphenicol. Children below 18 years old face the risk for Reye syndrome if given aspirin while they have chickenpox or influenza.

The elderly is also at risk for an adverse drug reaction due to various reasons. They are likely to have various health issues, thus they should be taking a number of prescription and over-the-counter medications. As an individual age, the liver is less likely to metabolize various drugs while the kidneys could not eliminate drugs from the body. As a result, there is an increased risk for kidney damage by a medication and other adverse reactions. In addition, older individuals are more sensitive to the effects of various drugs.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Various medications pose as a risk to the health and normal development of a fetus. With this in mind, pregnant women should not use any drugs particularly during the first trimester.

Some medications including ACE inhibitors pose as the highest risk during the last trimester of pregnancy. Using prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs and dietary supplements during pregnancy requires the supervision of a doctor. Even social drugs and prohibited drugs also pose as a risk to pregnancy and the developing fetus.

Remember that drugs and medicinal herbs can be transmitted via breast milk to an infant. Certain medications must not be taken by women who are breastfeeding while others can be taken but require supervision by a doctor. Some drugs do not usually harm the breastfeeding infant. Nevertheless, women who are breastfeeding must consult a doctor first before using any drugs. In addition, social and prohibited drugs can harm a breastfeeding infant.

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