Drug Responses


When someone takes a medication, it is expected to have a specific effect on the body. This is called the drug’s action. Sometimes a medication will have an unexpected effect on the body. This is called the drug’s side effect. An example might be when ibuprofen is taken for a headache. The action of the drug is relief of the pain of the headache. A side effect could be an upset stomach.

The medication aide is not ultimately responsible for observing the resident for actions and side effects of drugs. However, the medication aide may see changes in the resident’s condition sooner than anyone else. For this reason, it is important to have a general idea of drug actions and their possible side effects.

Common Drug actions 

  • Pain relief
  • Control or prevent the growth of bacteria, virus or fungus 
  • Reduce inflammation 
  • Replace missing or low chemicals in the body 
  • Correct an irregular or fast heart rate 
  • Prevent seizures 
  • Prevent blood from clotting 
  • Dry mucous production  
  • Lower blood pressure 
  • Lower body temperature 
  • Relax muscles 
  • Promote bowel movements
  • Increase water loss through the kidneys 
  • Relieve anxiety 
  • Promote sleep

Medication directions may list actions or possible side effects to watch for in the resident. Report observations according to the employer’s policies. Whoever is responsible for direction and monitoring should be notified. Be sure to seek direction regarding what to do if an emergency situation occurs.  

Common Drug Side Effects

  • Nausea, vomiting 
  • Constipation, diarrhea 
  • Poor appetite 
  • Dry mouth 
  • Irregular heart rate 
  • Swelling 
  • Drowsiness 
  • Headache 
  • Dizziness 
  • Unable to sleep 
  • Seizures 
  • Skin rash 
  • Double vision 
  • Itching
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