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Prescription Drug Side Effects

Medications can cause other conditions unrelated to the health problems they're prescribed to treat

However, it's not always easy to tell whether a symptom is related to a drug, a drug interaction, the underlying medical condition or a different health problem entirely. Sometimes if a drug is suspected, the only way a doctor can be certain it's the culprit is to stop prescribing it and see if the symptom vanishes — which might be medically feasible for some conditions but not others.

"Patients can be their own best advocates in alerting their doctor to a concern that this [symptom] could be a drug side effect," Steinman says. "Patients know themselves better than anyone else."

Patricia Barry is a senior editor with the AARP Bulletin.

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