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Arthritis: Medication side effects that require ‘urgent care’ for the condition

Dr Hilary explains benefit of arthritis drugs tocilizumab and sarilumab

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Patients on immunosuppressants need to be aware of the potential side effects of their arthritis medication. Dr Haque pointed out that a “high fever with rash” requires GP attention – and if they’re unavailable, go to A&E. Other warning signs include: red, hot, swollen joints; severe and sudden abdominal pain; a severe, atypical disease flare-up; and sudden spine pain. The charity Arthritis Foundation noted: “Side effects of medication are an understandable worry.”

However, the dangers of untreated inflammatory arthritis are deemed more risky than medication side effects.

“Medications ease pain, prevent joint destruction and improve the lives of countless people with arthritis,” the charity stated.

It’s important to discuss other factors that could influence the presence of side effects with your doctor.

For instance, taking over-the-counter medication, such as aspirin, might increase the risk of stomach problems if you’re taking a prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).

Do also tell your doctor if you’re taking any supplements, which may help or hinder the medication you’re currently on.

In addition, the Arthritis Foundation recommend avoiding alcohol – “it can add to the side effects of most drugs”, the charity warned.

“If you can’t or don’t want to give up alcohol altogether, set a limit of two drinks (including beer) per week.”

As many side effects can be related to dosages, it’s also advisable to be on the lower beneficial dose as possible.

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“Never take more than the prescribed amount,” the Arthritis Foundation instructed.

Other factors such as the timing of when you take your medication and how consistently you do so can also have an impact on the drug’s effectiveness.

“Never stop taking any medication without consulting your doctor,” advised the charity.

“A drug can’t help you if you don’t take it, but abruptly stopping a drug can hurt you.”

If you’re concerned about any side effects you’re experiencing, do talk to your doctor.

Openly communicating with your healthcare team means you are able to get the best possible care.

Any side effects can be investigated further, which may result in discontinuation or a dosage reduction.

Aside from pharmaceutical interventions, there is such a thing as an “arthritis diet” to consider alongside medication.

Many anti-inflammatory foods can help improve painful joint symptoms, which is bountiful in the Mediterranean diet.

The Mediterranean diet involves three to four ounces of fish, twice a week.

This can include salmon, tuna, sardines, herring, anchovies, and scallops.

Nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains also make up a Mediterranean diet.

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  • Posted on May 26, 2021