Thursday, October 04, 2007

Patient Information

Normally, when my doctor prescribes some nostrum, I simply buy it and take it. I never pay any attention to the patient information document, which is usually a narrow strip of paper printed in tiny type designed to discourage any actual reading. Take my advice and remain discouraged.

I’ve been prescribed a medicine to help with a minor breathing problem, nothing life threatening and not even particularly inconvenient. Because I’m already taking so many pills that I rattle like a seed-filled gourd I thought I ought to check to make sure this new pill wasn’t going to go to war with the others. I would read the patient info sheet.

Bad decision. I found out I would run the risk of the following possible side effects: Stomach pain, stomach or intestinal upset, heartburn, tiredness, fever, stuffy nose, cough, flu, upper respiratory infection, dizziness, headache and rash. These were just the most common possible side effects.

I might also experience ‘less common’ side effects, among which were: agitation, including aggressive behavior, allergic reactions that might cause trouble breathing or swallowing, an increased tendency to bruise or bleed, depression, diarrhea, hallucinations, hepatitis, muscle aches and cramps, tremors, seizures or vomiting.

It looks like the cure might be worse than the disease. I think that maybe I’ll just risk panting a bit when I walk up stairs.

Strangest of all was this note:

“The side effects in patients treated with XXXX were similar in type and frequency to side effects in patients who were given a placebo (a pill containing no medicine).”

Think about it.

Oh, well, since swallowing was all that was common to the two groups I guess I’ll simply avoid swallowing small non-food objects.

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