Side effect

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In medicine, a side effect is an effect, whether therapeutic or adverse, that is secondary to the one intended; although the term is predominantly employed to describe adverse effects, it can also apply to beneficial, but unintended, consequences of the use of a drug.

Occasionally, drugs are prescribed or procedures performed specifically for their side effects; in that case, said side effect ceases to be a side effect, and is now an intended effect. For instance, X-rays were historically (and are currently) used as an imaging technique; the discovery of their oncolytic capability led to their employ in radiotherapy (ablation of malignant tumours).

Frequency of side effects[edit]

The probability or chance of experiencing side effects are characterised as : [1][2]

  • Very common >=1/10
  • Common (frequent) >=1/100 and <1/10
  • Uncommon (infrequent) >=1/1000 and <1/100
  • Rare >=1/10000 and <1/1000
  • Very rare <1/10000

Examples of therapeutic side effects[edit]

Possible side effects of nicotine.[3]

Examples of undesirable/unwanted side effects[edit]

  • Echinacea – more than 20 different types of reactions have been reported, including asthma attacks, loss of pregnancy, hives, swelling, aching muscles and gastrointestinal upsets.[15]
  • Feverfew – pregnant women should avoid using this herb, as it can trigger uterine contractions which could lead to premature labour or miscarriage.[16]
  • Asteraceae plants – which include feverfew, echinacea, dandelion and chamomile. Side effects include allergic dermatitis and hay fever.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

  • Pharmacogenetics: the use of genetic information to determine which type of drugs will work best for a patient


  1. ^ "Common and Rare Side Effects for misoprostol oral". 
  2. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2016-04-29. 
  3. ^ Detailed reference list is located on a separate image page.
  4. ^ Boseley, Sarah (2006-06-17). "Drugs firm blocks cheap blindness cure". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  5. ^ Gracer, Richard (February 2007). "The Buprenorphine Effect on Depression" (PDF). National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment. Retrieved 19 September 2015. 
  6. ^ Bodkin, JA; Zornberg, GL; Lukas, SE; Cole, JO (1995). "Buprenorphine Treatment of Refractory Depression". Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology. 15: 49–57. doi:10.1097/00004714-199502000-00008. PMID 7714228. 
  7. ^ Mood Stabilizers for Bipolar Disorder (Manic Depressive) Archived 2011-11-13 at the Wayback Machine.. (2003-08-01). Retrieved on 2011-08-17.
  8. ^ a b Wing, DA; Powers, B; Hickok, D (2010). "U.S. Food and Drug Administration Drug Approval: Slow Advances in Obstetric Care in the United States". Obstetrics & Gynecology. 115 (4): 825–33. doi:10.1097/AOG.0b013e3181d53843. PMID 20308845. 
  9. ^ Shen, WW; Mahadevan, J; Hofstatter, L; Sata, LS (July 1983). "Doxepin as a potent H2 and H2 antihistamine for epigastric distress". Am J Psychiatry. 140 (7): 957–8. doi:10.1176/ajp.140.7.957. PMID 6859336. Archived from the original on 2011-09-04. 
  10. ^ Off-label Use of Gabapentin Archived 2007-08-09 at the Wayback Machine., Idaho Drug Utilization Review, educational leaflet, 2004.
  11. ^ "Pregnancy". (New Medical Information and Health Information). Archived from the original on 11 October 2008. 
  12. ^ Deem, Samuel G. "Premature Ejaculation". Archived from the original on 2008-12-01. Retrieved 2011-08-17. 
  13. ^ Gelenberg, Alan J.; et al. (2010). Practice guideline for the treatment of patients with major depressive disorder (PDF). American Psychiatric Association. 
  14. ^ Cheshire, William P.; Fealey, Robert D. (2008). "Drug-induced hyperhidrosis and hypohidrosis: incidence, prevention and management" (PDF). Drug Safety. 31 (2): 109–126. doi:10.2165/00002018-200831020-00002. ISSN 0114-5916. PMID 18217788. 
  15. ^ "Filagra Vs Fildena". 23 February 2017. Archived from the original on 3 July 2017. 
  16. ^ Wells, Rebecca Erwin; Turner, Dana P.; Lee, Michelle; Bishop, Laura; Strauss, Lauren (2016-04-01). "Managing Migraine During Pregnancy and Lactation". Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports. 16 (4): 40. doi:10.1007/s11910-016-0634-9. ISSN 1528-4042. Archived from the original on 2016-06-09. 

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