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Home Health Education Living With Joint Pain
Avoid Treatment Reactions: Ask About New Arthritis Medications Print E-mail

Modern medicine and the medications produced by medical advances have improved the lives of millions of arthritis patients. For arthritis patients, new medications can now lessen the severity of pain and improve flexibility. However, every patient should be aware that adverse drug allergies and reactions are not uncommon. Because people with arthritis tend to take medicines regularly, awareness of these potential reactions is important. Four key questions (listed below) can help patients avoid common drug reactions and drug allergies. First, some background.

Not All Reactions are Allergies

Almost any medication can cause an undesirable reaction.

Millions of Americans have sensitivities to medications, but not all of them are true allergic reactions. Typical allergic reactions are skin rash, hives or wheezing. Other adverse reactions to drugs can arise from exaggerated side-effects. The most common are upset stomach, diarrhea, vomiting, fever and sensitivity to sunlight. While these reactions can look and feel like allergies - and for that reason, they are referred to as "pseudo-allergies" - they do not involve an immune response to the drug and therefore are not true allergies.

Now or Later

A reaction to a medicine can begin any time. Some people will notice an immediate reaction to a new medication. Other people may take a medication for years with no ill effect, and then suddenly they have a bad reaction to it.


When you have a reaction to a medication, therapy depends on the severity of the negative response. For patients with a mild skin reaction, the physician might simply prescribe stopping the medication. For more acute difficulties, treatment will focus on relieving symptoms. After the symptoms have been resolved, prevention will be key to avoiding future incidents.

Four Key Questions to Ask

Whenever new medications are prescribed, ask your physician:

  • Are there special instructions for taking this drug?
  • How long should I be prepared to wait for the drug to work?
  • What should I do if I miss a dose?
  • What should I do if I experience side effects?

For additional safety, always inform your physician of the following factors:

  • Any additional medical problems being treated by other physicians.
  • The names of all the drugs you are taking.
  • If you are pregnant, trying to become pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • If you drink alcohol.
  • If you experience an adverse reaction to a drug.

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