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Chapter 1: About Drugs in General    
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VII. Precautions

It is very important that you give all relevant information about yourself to your doctor. This helps the doctor to prescribe the drugs rationally and also reduces the chances of adverse effects of the drug. The points to be discussed with your doctor varies as the disease/disorder as well as the drugs used for treatment vary. This column lists down all the relevant points that must be communicated to the doctor who is prescribing that drug. However, there are certain general points which must always be told to the doctor, no matter what the drug is or the disease/disorder under consideration. They are as follows:

  •    Tell your doctor about any other drugs you are taking already.

  •    Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or intend to become pregnant.

  •    Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding

  •    Tell your doctor if you have or have had in the past any specific health problem such as liver or    kidney disease or any other severe disease/disorder.

  •    Tell your doctor if you have to undergo any kind of surgery in the near future.

  •    Tell your doctor if you are on any kind of special diet, for example, low-sugar or low-salt.

  •    Tell your doctor if you have had allergic reactions to any past treatment.

Pregnancy

The most important rule when you are pregnant or intend to become pregnant is to consult your doctor before taking any kind of medicine, either prescription or OTC.

Many drugs are known to cross the placenta (barrier between the mother's and the baby's blood steams) and cause adverse effects on the foetus (developing baby). Some drugs may also adversely affect the mother's health. There are certain drugs which are considered to be safe, but there is no firm proof of their safety and hence it is always better to let your doctor decide whether you should take a particular drug or not.

In some instances, when the pregnant woman is suffering from a chronic condition such as epilepsy, high B.P., diabetes or any kind of severe disease, it may become necessary to give her drug treatment. The doctor then, balances the possible benefits and risks of the drug and decides if it should be taken or not. It is always preferable to avoid drugs for minor ailments. Drugs such as marijuana, nicotine (tobacco) or alcohol should also be avoided.

Effect of Drugs During the Different Trimesters of Pregnancy

The nine month old period of pregnancy is divided into three stages, each of three-month duration. These three stages are called trimesters. A drug may exert different effects on the mother or the foetus or both depending on which trimester of pregnancy, it is being used.

The first three months or the first trimester of pregnancy is the most critical period. Certain drugs may adversely affect the development of organs in the foetus. Very severe defects may result in miscarriage.

During the second trimester, the drugs may retard the growth of the foetus, which can also cause a low birth weight.

Drugs taken during the third and last trimester may cause breathing problems in the newborn baby or may cause premature/delayed birth.

     
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