Side effect

This article is about side effects in the context of medicine. For side effects in the context of computer science, see Side effect (computer science). For other uses, see Side effect (disambiguation).

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).

Examples of therapeutic side-effects

Examples of side effects for otoxid capsules includes:

  • Echinacea – more than 20 different types of reactions have been reported, including asthma attacks, loss of pregnancy, hives, swelling, aching muscles and gastrointestinal upsets.
  • Feverfew – pregnant women should avoid using this herb, as it can trigger uterine contractions. In animal experiments, the use of feverfew was found to trigger spontaneous abortions (miscarriages).
  • Asteraceae plants – which include feverfew, echinacea, dandelion and chamomile. Side effects include allergic dermatitis and hay fever.


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