Patient Referral

What is the Difference Between Symptoms and Side Effects?


Most older adults and people facing serious illness are using medication of some kind to manage symptoms, treat their illness, and address other chronic health issues. With so much affecting their loved one’s health, family caregivers often ask about the difference between symptoms and side effects of the medication. Understanding the difference between symptom vs. side effect is important to ensure your loved one receives the best care.

symptoms side effects

Understanding Symptoms vs. Side Effects

When someone is facing a serious or terminal illness, it can be difficult to tell the difference between symptoms of illness or side effects from medication. Family caregivers should not make any changes to medication themselves, but instead should bring their concerns to your loved one’s care team.

Healthcare professionals should take family concerns seriously, paying particular attention to changes in the patient’s condition including:

  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Delirium
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive drowsiness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Incontinence
  • Loss of appetite
  • Changes in speech and memory
  • Falls and fractures

Each patient is different. In some cases, an adjustment to medication may be needed. In others, additional education about end-of-life signs and symptoms can help family caregivers better understand what changes they should expect in the coming days.

partnership in care crossroads hospice

A Partnership in Care

Good communication between healthcare providers, patients, and families is essential to good care. For patients diagnosed with a serious illness, palliative care benefits include nurse practitioner visits in the patient’s home to manage symptoms and address side effects.

For patients diagnosed with a terminal illness, hospice care partners with families by providing physical, emotional, and spiritual care. In addition to caring for the patient, the hospice team also supports the family. When a family caregiver has questions about the difference between symptoms and effects of medication, the hospice team can provide information and education.

To learn more about the palliative care benefits offered by Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care, please call 1-888-564-3405.


If you found this information helpful, please share it with your network and community.
Copyright © 2022 Crossroads Hospice. All rights reserved. 


Related Content
Heart Icon

Want to give back?