How to Cope with Medication Side Effects

For the majority of people with chronic health problems, medication is a necessity.

But unfortunately, medication often comes with side effects. Some can ease off after a short adjustment period, but sadly, some like to linger. We often get used to living with them, but some side effects are too difficult to cope with and make life utterly miserable.

How to cope with side effects from medication, meds, pills, drugs. Tiredness, Insomnia, Brain fog. Suggestions.

I have listed a few possible side effects with suggestions which might help. Sometimes a few simple changes can make a difference, but if you are struggling to cope, do speak to your doctor about it. The medication could possibly be altered to make life better for you.

Track your side effects

In my post about doctors, I suggested using a pain diary to track and explain pain. I also think it’s a good idea to use a diary to track side effects. Doing this can let you and your doctor see how much the side effects are affecting you and when they are at their worst. You may find that the time you take them, what you eat when you take them or even your activity levels could be having an impact. This might let you see where some changes could be made.

You could use the pain diary I shared in that post.

pain diary template word doc- despitepain.com

pain diary template pdf – despitepain.com

Dry mouth

Dry eyes

  • Use eye drops or gels regularly throughout the day
  • Put warm, damp cotton pads underneath an eye mask at night
  • Turn down the glare on screens
  • Take regular computer breaks
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes – small dust particles could scratch them

Tiredness and fatigue

  • Health conditions are tiring. Put meds into the mix, and the tiredness can be overwhelming. So listen to your body and rest more.
  • Snooze during the day. Set an alarm if you don’t want to sleep for too long. Even just a 30 minute nap can give us an energy boost
  • Try to get quality sleep through the nighttired-panda-despitepain.com_. Healthy adults apparently need 7 – 9 hours sleep a night. But we’re not exactly healthy, are we? People with chronic health conditions probably need more
  • Don’t become dehydrated – drink more water
  • Eat healthy nutritious food
  • Try to get some gentle exercise and fresh air. That’s not easy when you have health problems, but sometimes, even just a short walk can help
  • Ask your doctor to do some blood tests, just in case there’s another reason for feeling like this

Insomnia

  • Make a routine with a set time for going to bed
  • Set an alarm for the same time every morning
  • If you nap during the day, keep it short, by setting an alarm
  • Wind down before trying to sleep by reading or listening to soft music – switch off computers and phones which will possibly keep you awake
  • If something is on your mind, try writing it down, and letting go of it before going to bed
  • Learn some breathing and relaxation techniques
  • Speak to your doctor for help

That hungover feeling in the morning

  • If you take meds before bedtime, try taking them an hour or two earlier. The effects might wear off sooner so you can wake up feeling less hungover
  • Eat breakfast – don’t go without something to eat in the morning
  • Try the traditional hangover cure – a bacon sandwich
  • Drink more water

Brain fog (confusion, low concentration & forgetfulness)

  • Try to get quality sleep
  • Eat well and stay well hydrated
  • Keep your brain active by doing puzzles, reading, crafts etc
  • Try to rest, relax and chill – remember this isn’t your fault
  • Keep notes and reminders so you don’t forget important appointments
  • If it’s a big problem for you, speak to your doctor
Fighting through clouds. Brain fog. Can't focus. Can't concentrate. Bad memory. Side effect of meds. Poem

Nausea

  • Sip water
  • Take meds with food (if allowed)
  • Eat small light meals regularly
  • Drink ginger, fennel or peppermint tea
  • Eat plain crackers or ginger snaps
  • Breathe, long slow deep breaths
  • Use aromatherapy oils in a diffuser or oil burner – chamomile, lavender, rose and lemon can help nausea
  • Wear an anti-nausea wrist band (normally used for motion sickness)
  • Ask pharmacist or doctor for help

Constipation

  • Drink more water – sip throughout the day
  • Eat more high fibre foods, including fruit and vegetables
  • Exercise if you can (just walking about in the house can help)
  • Position – put a small step in your bathroom. Place your feet on it when you use the toilet. It raises your knees up and changes your body’s position, making it easier
  • Don’t let it become a serious problem. Your pharmacist or doctor will be able to give you something to help

Diarrhoea

  • Sip water to avoid becoming dehydrated
  • Avoid caffeine, spicy or high fibre foods
  • Ask your pharmacist about using over-the-counter medications to help.
  • If you don’t improve see your doctor. If the meds are definitely causing it, they may need to be changed.
Medication side effects. Staying well hydrated can help some side effects such as tiredness, dry mouth, dry eyes, brain fog and constipation. It can help reduce pain. Zebras drinking water

Weight gain

Weight gain can be a problem for many people who rely on meds. While some can increase the appetite, others actually change the body’s metabolism and even change how the body stores fats and sugars. Some meds can cause fluid retention which also causes a weight increase – it is important to speak to your doctor if this is the case.

  • Try to be conscious about eating a balanced, healthy diet
  • Speak to your doctor or see a dietitian if you need help
  • Exercise if you can. However, many people with chronic illness are also fairly inactive due to their pain and mobility, so ask for help from your doctor or physiotherapist
  • Get professional advice before trying diets which specifically cut out certain foods. Some might not be good for you and your condition, and some might cause a problem with meds

Weight loss

  •  Try to ensure you are eating a balanced diet with the correct amount of calories with foods rich in vitamins and minerals, otherwise, you could become deficient in important nutrients.
  • Ask your doctor or a dietician for help
  • If you are becoming underweight or feeling unwell (different from your normal unwell), see your doctor

Sun sensitivity

Serious side effects

As I said in my last post about meds, some side effects are serious. Most of these are uncommon side effects, but if you suffer from any of them, seek medical advice.

They may be caused by an allergic reaction and the meds may need to be stopped. Don’t do this on your own. Always get medical advice.

I know how awful side effects can be, so I really hope that some of these suggestions combined with the information in my last post can help make life a wee bit easier.

Do you despise taking meds because of their side effects?
Do you have any other tips? Please leave me a comment below and share my post with your friends.
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85 thoughts on “How to Cope with Medication Side Effects

  1. I find it frustrating the medications to help us with one thing cause other problems of their own, so finding ways to better manage these and mitigate their impact is important. And yes, the hangover feeling when you’ve done nothing to deserve it is horrible (good excuse for that bacon sandwich though). Great tips!
    Caz xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. These are all great tips. Learning how to combat side effects makes it more likely that you’ll stay on the medicines you’ll need, while also improving your quality of life. Thanks for sharing this valuable post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Side effects are one of the unfortunate bonuses of medications. The problem is they are different for everyone. Some experience what others do not. Stay on top of them and if they become too much see if there is another medication that can give you similar results with fewer side effects. Sometimes it’s trial and error. Great list of tips!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I used to take Accutane for acne and the side effects included increased photo sensitivity and dry skin. To combat this I had to use so much moisturizer and sun screen, all while avoiding the sun if it’s possible.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a really good list of tips. Sometimes the side effects of the medicine can be just as bad as the symptoms your taking it for! I knew a few people on ADHD medicine, and they said it made them seriously depressed, which worried me because I was looking taking some to focus, but I don’t want it making me sad all day. Thanks for this write-up!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. SarahRCR

    I love that you empower people to take charge of their own health! Side effects can be very difficult to manage and you’ve come up with a comprehensive list of ways to help manage. Great work!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Luna S

    It is scary knowing and reading some of the side effects medications can give, but many of the health issues out weight the side effects so it is nice to know how to handle these issues should they arise.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. stylelullaby

    i try not to take meds when i don’t absolutely need them because of the side effects it can give, but sometimes it’s not avoidable. my boyfriend literally just got out of back surgery yesterday so i will have to share this with him so he keeps your tips in mind when he takes his pain meds!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I was recently diagnosed with mastitis, and I was placed on a couple of antibiotics and other meds in the last weeks. Apart from being excessively tired and fatigued, I’ve been bloating seriously. No gas, no bowel movements just a big shiny tummy that feels so heavy and tired. I thought this was abnormal at first. So I stopped the meds for a day, I noticed the bloating stopped and returned when I began taking the meds.

    I’m yet to see my doctor on this though.

    Thanks for the tips.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Mary Caroline Smith

    This is exactly why I had to stop taking my anxiety medication. I had such terrible brain fog. I still feel like I lost several years of my life…but I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to feel that way.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Neil Alvin Nicerio

    I agree that meds are important but there are some sicknesses that can be cured naturally like common colds and flu. I think taking meds for this is too much.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I am so glad I don’t take any medications. I try to avoid even over the counter stuff like the plague. Lol. The side effects are ridiculous. My biggest issue with medications is that we take them to combat whatever is going on, then have side effects. We’re given meds to counteract the side effects, and suddenly find ourselves taking 7-15 prescriptions per day, and it is insane. This would be why I run from medications. Lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Keshia Richmond

    Medication side effects are definitely worth considering when dealing with prescriptions. A lot of people will be helped by this article.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Your list is really complete and empowering to help us reduce the side effects. I found also educating myself about the potential side effects helped me to prepare for them and minimize their effects a bit. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. lforsythe7040

    These are great tips! If after trying all of the above, you still have bothersome side effects, talk to your pharmacist or doctor. Sometimes medications can be interacting with one another to make side effects worse or there may be another medication in the same class that has less issues with side effects that you could try. There is no one-size-fits-all medication regimen and it more art than science in many cases to find what will work for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m currently experiencing insomnia, and I’m not sure what is causing it. After reading this post, I’m wondering if it could be a medication that I’m on. I’m going to try out your tips to see if they help, because this has been happening for weeks now and I’m exhausted!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. blair villanueva

    I haven’t paid much attention for my medication side-effects. I already expecting that I would experience it and just hug it until I got healed.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I’ve learned that keeping a medication/side effect/ pain/ mood diary is essential when going through illness or a shift. We think we’ll remember things but one day rolls into the next and you can’t keep it all tied down, which is no help when back at the doctors office. Sometimes you end up seeing new patterns which can make all the difference where your health is concerned. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. chaddden2001

    My worst side effects, luckily, are migraines. However, my migraines practically knock me out and along with the tiredness, I sleep so much and I feel like I lose days.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Fatima D Torres

    I’ve been dealing with tiredness and fatigue lately, but it’s not from medication. My husband’s niece has complained about this lately. She’s on meds though.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Blondie

    I have found myself in almost everything – not in lost weight but gain. Uf! I have to fight pain and spasms all day and take medications and then I have side effects. Few meds almost cost me my life. Last one – propranolol – it was given to me for tremor and I and it up with heart pulse 45-50. I decided to keep tremor instead. Magic circle!

    Like

  22. These are some great tips – thanks for sharing them! I take as little medication as possible, simply because I have a history of having very unusual side effects with medication. Of course, sometimes the benefits far outweigh the side effects and the meds are necessary. These tips are wonderful for those times… Pinning this!

    Like

    1. Thanks
      Terri, yes, sometimes the benefits outweigh the side effects. It’s just a shame that so many meds cause people problems. It’s amazing how many people have unusual side effects and need to avoid them altogether.

      Liked by 1 person

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