I’m currently suffering from an ear infection. It’s rather painful (it feels like I’ve been bashed on the side of my head by a cricket bat). Don’t worry, it’s nothing serious. But when I first had it checked I was told it was viral. Acetic acid and Paracetamol should clear it.
Having visited my own GP when it didn’t clear, it turns out that it was bacterial and I was given antibiotics. I don’t begrudge the original diagnosis, with the over-prescribing of antibiotics and the risk of super bugs it makes sense. Nor is this a “poor me” post. Today I wanted to talk about drug cocktails, contraindications and interactions.
I’ve already discussed my Humira Hangover, but at the moment I’m rather achy (the weather changes really aren’t helping), so I’m taking my anti inflammatory, PPI, nerve inhibitor, and painkillers. (Yes, fellow Ankylosaurs and other Spoonies will probably recognise the list!) But I’ve had to add a couple of new tablets – the antibiotics and paracetamol.
Now, the problem with drugs is that you never know how they’re going to work in your body. And you don’t know how they’re going to react with each other. This means that you need to find out how they work with your body so that you can make the right adjustments.
For example: I avoid opiates where possible (they’re very addictive) and have found that Nefopam is my go-to for helping to manage flares. They make me terribly nauseated, so I have to lie down and try to sleep it off.
And so, we come to the point of the post, introducing even simple medications (like paracetamol and Amoxicillin) can change the balance. This is where the leaflet that you usually ignore comes in handy. Usually they’ll list the known side effects, contraindications and other interactions.
If you have a side effect, read the leaflet, check if it’s a common or uncommon side effect. Only you can decide if it’s something that you can live with. If it is then you’ll need to work out how to cope, it might need a lie down, something to eat (maybe an empty stomach instead), or a different tablet to counteract the side effect. Whatever it is, build it into your plan.
If it’s not something that you can live with then speak to your medical professional. Explain how the treatment makes you feel and ask about alternatives. Remember, this is your life and your treatment. And the team that is helping you just wants the best for you.
Having a chronic condition means that you need to have a relationship with your care team. You must be as open as possible with them otherwise they can’t help you properly. Dr Google can be useful, as can Facebook groups and forums like the one on the NASS website. But nothing beats the personalised treatment that your specialist team and GP provide.