We go to the physician, and he prescribes medication for us, but often we don’t have a clue about what time to take our medication, what the possible side affects are, and what we should or should not be eating with these drugs. A little bit of knowledge goes a long way, so journey with me on a mission to discover little known facts which can enhance our drug experience, and possibly even save a life.
Also, most of us know what constitutes an emergency, but we don’t realize that there are some things that may not seem like, but could very well be an emergency. For instance, most people believe that once a person is diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, that management of the pain and inflammation is the only concern, however, there are some acute (short term) situations that you need to be familiar with, so that you will know when it is time to take a trip to the emergency room. I am using Rheumatoid arthritis as an example, because I have been diagnosed with it, but these principles can also apply for any auto-immune disease, including diabetes.
*Septic arthritis (Joint infection), considered to be a medical emergency because of the damage that can occur to the bone and cartilage. Symptoms are: fever, chills, severe swelling and pain in the affected joint, nausea and fatigue.
*an attack of gout, a highly painful attack which is usually concentrated in the big toe, but has been known to attack other joints as well. A gout attack is characterized by sudden, intense pain as the uric acid has accumulated and deposited crystals in the joint.
*Sudden, painless, temporary loss of vision in one eye, called amaurosis fugax (e.g., giant cell arteritis)
*When it comes to medications for arthritis the idea is to balance the side effects against the need to control inflammation. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis need to regularly monitor their condition with blood tests, and consult with their physician regularly to monitor any complications.
Some of the side affects are: elevated liver enzymes, Ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding (caused by the pain medication NSAIDS)
Pay attention to how you feel after you take these drugs, and report any changes to your doctor. Your doctor will do his part by monitoring your blood work, and change or lower your medications as needed.
For a more comprehensive list go to:
Some medications are:
The following drugs treat rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, anykylosing spondylitis (a form of arthritis) and moderate to severe psoriasis. The following drugs are not a complete list, consult with your doctor for more options, and for the drug which might be most helpful for you.
*Enbrel (etanercept), an injection given once every two weeks
*Humira (adalimumab), an injection given once a week
*Remicade (infliximab), an intravenous infusion at intervals of several weeks
*Rituxan (rituximab), This drug is called B-cell therapy, and it targets cells that play a role in rheumatoid arthritis. This is given as two infusions separated by two weeks, and repeated every six months.
As a general rule about drugs, Keep these in mind:
*Don’t break or chew drugs that are meant to be swallowed whole, unless your doctor says its okay. Some drugs work on a time-release principle that won’t work properly if they are chewed.
*Make sure your prescription is legible, because your pharmacist might not be able to read it either. It is your responsibility, as well as the doctor and pharmacist that mistakes won’t be made.
*Don’t forget to tell your doctor about over the counter medications you might be taking, including herbs so that negative drug interactions can be avoided.
*Don’t keep your drugs in a medicine cabinet in the bathroom because the heat and the humidity from the shower can downgrade the meds and make them less affective.
*Birth control pills and hormonal patches can rob your body of B vitamins and zinc, so make sure you eat your leafy greens, orange juice, eggs and fish)
*If you are on an antibiotic or anti-seizure med, use a back-up contraceptive because these two drugs can reduce the effectiveness of hormonal birth control.
*Blood pressure medication (beta blockers) can increase the risk of anesthesia, so be sure and ask your doctor if you should wean off of them the week before surgery
*Drugs that lower blood sugar levels can prevent the absorption of vitamin B12, so take a supplement or add more eggs, fish and soy products.
Foods that interact with common medications:
*Aged cheeses, such as parmesan and blue cheese contain tyramine (also found in soy products and wine) don’t combine well with MAO inhibiters (antidepressants like Nardil) because they can cause a dangerous rise in blood pressure levels.
*If you drink alcohol you could become dizzy, drowsy, and increase your risk of liver damage and stomach bleeding, soavoid alcohol if you take antidepressants, antianxiety meds (like xanax), diabetes medications (like Glucophage), cold/flu meds, beta-blockers (like Inderal) and sleeping pills (like Ambien and Lunesta)
*If you drink coffee or other caffeinated drinks you could become jittery, get a rapid heartbeat
and heart palpitations because some decongestants already contain caffeine, so adding a cup of coffee may give you too much. Avoid with asthma medications (like TheoDur or theo-24), antibiotics (like Ciprol), and anti-anxiety drugs (like Xanax).
*Dairy products can interfere with the absorption of antibiotics (like tetracycline), making them less affective.
*Grapefruit juice can interfere with an enzyme in the body that metabolizes cholesterol lowering drugs (statins like Zocor and Lipitor), blood thinners, blood pressure meds (calcium channel blockers like Plendil), tranquilizers, and antidepressants (like Zoloft), which causes them to stay in the bloodstream longer which could increase the side affects.
*Salt substitutes which contain potassium can interact with certain blood pressure medications (like spironolactone, Diovan or Altace), because too much potassium in the diet can cause heart arrhythmias.
Timing for certain medications make all the difference on whether you are getting the most out of them that you can, for instance:
*SSRI antidepressants (like Zoloft and Prozac) can be stimulating so they should be taken in the morning.
*Asthma medications should be taken in the middle of the day so that plenty will be left in the bloodstream for the evening, when symptoms may get worse.
*MAOIs (like Nardil) and tricyclic antidepressants (like Elavil) can be sedating so they should be taken in the evening.
*Medications which treat or prevent heart disease, including aspirin should be taken in the evening because your body makes the most cholesterol between 12 a.m. to 3 a.m. Also aspirin causes less stomach irritation at night.
*Allergy medications should be taken in the evening because the drugs will still be in your system when you wake up in the morning, which is when symptoms tend to peak.
The more you know about the drugs you take, the more you can control how to assist them in helping you more effectively. As well, knowing when something constitutes an emergency can help you get the help you need while there is still time for an affective cure.
*I am not a doctor. This article is for informational purposes only. Please contact your Physician for counseling in these health matters.