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News Letter

Home Health Education Living With Joint Pain
Talking with Your Doctor about New Arthritis Drugs and Other Medications Print E-mail
For many people with arthritis, taking medicines becomes a way of life. It's important to talk with your doctor each time he or she prescribes a new arthritis drug or other medication.

Talking with your doctor about the arthritis drugs and other medications you take is a key to getting the maximum benefit. A medication prescribed for one ailment, such as arthritis, may have an effect on other health conditions as well. When you receive a new prescription, ask your doctor:

  • How should I take this medicine?
  • Are there any special instructions?
  • How will this affect my other medications?

For example, you may need to take some medicines with milk, or you may need to eat something just before or after taking them, to make sure they do not upset your stomach. Other medicines are meant to be taken on an empty stomach.

Additional questions you should ask your doctor are:
  • What side effects are common?
  • What should I do if I experience side effects?
  • How long should I be prepared to wait for the drug to work?
  • What should I do if I miss a dose?

Communication with your doctor is a two-way street. In addition to asking questions, there is information you should volunteer, as well. Inform your doctor if you:

  • Are already taking medicines including both prescription and non-prescription medicines.
  • Use vitamins and food supplements.
  • Are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.
  • Drink alcohol.
  • Have any additional medical problems.
  • Have experienced an adverse reaction or allergy to a drug in the past.
  • Use vitamins and food supplements.
  • Are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.
  • Drink alcohol.
  • Have any additional medical problems.
  • Have experienced an adverse reaction or allergy to a drug in the past.

You should also ask how many times a day you should take your medicine and at what time of day. For example, if the directions are to take two pills a day, clarify whether that means two at the same time each day or one in the morning and one in the evening.

Understand the ingredients of the medicines your doctor prescribes. Even if you faithfully follow package labels, you can run into trouble if you take more than one medication with the same ingredient. Many cold medicines and pain remedies include ingredients like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. If you take these for a cold or headache while taking arthritis medicines with the same ingredients, you could suffer problems as serious as bleeding ulcers or even liver failure (Arthritis Today, January-February 2003).

Plan ahead to make each doctor visit as effective as possible:

  • Make a written list of the medications and dosage you take and keep it current.
  • List all vitamins and supplements you may be taking.
  • Share this list with your doctor. He or she can determine if your current medications may conflict with any new medications.
  • List all vitamins and supplements you may be taking.
  • Share this list with your doctor. He or she can determine if your current medications may conflict with any new medications.

Write down all your questions before your visit. Print out your list and take it with you for writing down the doctor's answers before you leave. It's easy to forget important details.

 

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