Monday, 16 November 2015

Showing Side Effects The Yellow Card

How often do you read the leaflet that comes with medication? Perhaps you don't bother with the over-the-counter remedies like ibuprofen but skim the information that comes with your prescription medication, paying attention to dosage and side effects?

I was recently prescribed a course of antibiotics. Just hours after taking the first tablet I experienced a bitter, metallic taste in my mouth. It subsided after eating and drinking but soon became a notable feature of my day. It was so strong that it woke me up during the night. On reading the medication notes more closely it became clear that this was one of the more common side effects.

But I also noticed a little note, inviting me to notify my pharmacist or GP, or submit information online to record the side effects I had. I'd never noticed this before but decided to do so and duly logged on to

The Yellow card scheme allows you to report "all suspected problems or incidents to all health care products, not just suspected side effects to medicines" and is "vital in helping the MHRA monitor the safety of all health care products in the UK to ensure they are acceptably safe for patients and those that use them". The information you log can help to make decisions about whether to update the printed information in the packets or even, in extreme cases, if a product should be taken off the market.

In addition to logging your side effects, it's worth remembering that if you do suffer from any side effects with your medication that are uncomfortable or you are troubled by, you can go back to your GP or pharmacist to discuss alternative options. Don't assume there's only one option; you don't have to suffer. There are are wide range of drugs that can be used to treat many conditions and it's worth finding one that's right for you. For example I was prescribed three different iron supplements, to restore my heavily depleted natural stores, before finding one that didn't make me very uncomfortable.

Have you ever asked for a change to medication due to unwanted side effects? Would you take the trouble to log them?

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