Eight Tips for Taking Your Arthritis Medicines Safely

Most people who have arthritis take a medication for it. Even if it’s not a prescription drug, they may take supplements or herbal remedies.

The problem is that many people who suffer from arthritis also take medications for other conditions as well. And this can make it very confusing and perplexing when trying to keep track of things.

Here are eight tips to ensure you don’t make mistakes with your medicines:

1. When you go to the doctor, write down the names and dosages of your medicines so your doctor can keep track of what you’re taking. This can head off any potential drug interactions or drug side effects. There is nothing more frustrating for a doctor or nurse than taking a medication history and having the patient say, “Well, I take the blue pill for my blood pressure… and the pink one for my diabetes… and the green and white one for my arthritis…”

2. When you pick up your medicines at the drugstore, touch base with your pharmacist and ask him or her if what you’re taking makes sense and if there are potential problems. You can even schedule a medicine audit.

3. When discussing your medicines with your doctor, make sure you list all the nutritional supplements you take as well. Just because something is “natural” doesn’t mean it is harmless. And there can be potentially harmful drug interactions as well.

4. If you’re taking a medicine that requires frequent daily dosing, ask if an extended release product or an equivalent medicine that requires less frequent dosing is available.

5. Consider using a pill box with separate daily compartments. These help you keep track of your medicines and also remind you of whether you’ve taken your medicine already. Most pill boxes have a separate compartment for morning medicines and one for evening medicines.

6. Understand dosing schedules. Taking a medicine three times a day is not the same as taking a medicine “every 8 hours.” Clarify this with the doctor or nurse.

7. If you need to take a medicine on an empty stomach, this means at least an hour before eating or three hours after eating. Taking a medicine which is supposed to be ingested on an empty stomach with food could limit absorption and reduce the effectiveness of the drug. By the same token, taking a medicine on an empty stomach when you should be taking it with food could lead to gastrointestinal issues. This is especially true of arthritis medicines.

8. Sometimes combination pills can replace two or three separate medicines and may be more convenient. An example would be an anti-inflammatory drug like Vimovo which is a combination of naproxen and a proton pump inhibitor. The combination is kinder on the stomach.