Are you worried about side effects?
Getting a chronic diagnosis and thus having to take medications for the rest of your life can be a difficult message. For many, there is also a concern about what side effects the medicines can bring. How can you think to deal with your anxiety?
Susceptibility to infection, fatigue, nausea and hair loss—anyone who has ever read the information leaflet for a medicine knows that the list of side effects can be both long and alarming. As if the problems from the disease itself were not enough? Worrying about side effects is very common.
Tips for dealing with anxiety
There are things that can be good to think about if anxiety strikes:
The fact that a side effect is mentioned in the package insert, or that you learn that someone else has been affected by a certain side effect, does not mean that you will get this side effect. Different people react differently to the same kind of medicine. It can be due to age, weight, other diseases or simply that you absorb different amounts of the medicine's active substance. (1)
Most side effects are harmless and mild, and many go away after you have used the medicine for a while. (1)
You are not a guinea pig in an experiment. Many people are already taking the medicine you have been prescribed, and the doctor follows guidelines for the prescription. The reason you are given this medicine is that it can help you feel healthier in your rheumatic disease.
As long as you go to the check-ups you are called to and take the blood tests you are asked to take, the health care personnel keep track of your values and if anything in your medication needs to be changed.
To some extent, you can reduce the risk of side effects yourself by taking your medicines according to your doctor's prescription. (2) You can also increase the conditions in general for feeling well and not being affected unnecessarily by taking care of yourself in terms of sleep, good food and physical activity.
There are many groups in social media where you can find support and understanding from people with the same or similar diagnoses. The advantages of this are many. The disadvantage can sometimes be that you can easily be frightened by hearing about other people's side effects, or suspicions of side effects. Try to find a balance.
The disease itself also has side effects, some of which are serious. What would happen if you don't take the drug that slows the progression of the disease?
Communicate with your doctor
If you feel worried, experience side effects or problems that you suspect are side effects—talk to your doctor! They need to know this so that you can draw up a common treatment plan. (2)
To keep track of your symptoms and possible side effects, log in Elsa how you are doing. This also gives you a good statistical basis to show your doctor.
You can also check out the blog post Different types of medications—do you know what is what? where we sort out the differences between the three main groups of medications that can be considered in the treatment of rheumatic disease; DMARDs, cortisone and painkillers.