How to take medicines safely
Side effects can sometimes be very severe — like damage to the organs inside
the body. A medicine with these effects is usually only worth taking in
emergencies. Sometimes you should only take a medicine for a short time and
then stop to avoid being hurt by the side effects.
Whenever you give a medicine to a woman, tell her what side effects she might
have. If she has these effects, she will know it is normal and she is more likely to
keep taking the medicine for the needed number of days. She will also know
which effects are not normal side effects, and might show that she has an allergy.
Some people are allergic to certain medicines. When a person is given that
medicine, her body has a reaction. She may have a small, uncomfortable reaction
or a very serious reaction that can endanger her life.
Do not give a medicine to someone who is allergic to that medicine. Do not
give the person any medicines from the same family (see page 470).
To prevent an allergic reaction from a medicine:
1. Before giving any medicine, ask the woman if she has had itching or other
problems after taking that medicine or a similar medicine in the past. If she
has had a reaction in the past, do not give that medicine or
any medicine from the same family.
2. Stay with a woman for 30 minutes after giving an injection.
During this time, watch for signs of allergic reaction.
3. Have medicines ready to fight allergic reaction.
Signs of allergic reaction:
• skin rash
• itching skin or eyes
• swelling of the lips or face
• give 25 mg diphenhydramine ����������������������������������������by mouth, 1 time
• give 25 mg promethazine ��������������������������������������������������by mouth, 1 time
You can give another 25 mg of either medicine in 6 hours if rash, itching,
swelling, or wheezing has not stopped.
Signs of severe allergic reaction or allergic shock:
• pale skin
• difficulty breathing
• cold, sweaty skin
• low blood pressure
• weak, rapid pulse or heartbeat
• loss of consciousness
A Book for Midwives (2010)