What I've Learned About Medications and Side Effects

I have always been scared to take new medications. I always read the information that comes with the medication, and then worry that I will get all of the side effects. I’ve even been afraid of taking Tylenol at times. And then of course, once I start the medication, I’m hypervigilant, worrying that every ache or pain is a sign of a serious side effect.

I almost always end up taking the medication anyway though. And it always works out ok.

I started to get over it a little bit when my gastroenterologist prescribed me Prednisone for the first time. More than any other medication I’d had so far, Prednisone scared me. I knew it could have serious side effects. But by the time my doctor prescribed it, I felt badly enough that I knew I would have to take it.

And it made me feel so much better.

Fortunately, I did not have too many side effects. It messed with my sleep and made me feel a little crazy. I’ve been on and off it since then, and worry about the long-term use, but I trust my doctor.

By the time I got to Remicade, I had accepted that I needed to be on something to control my disease, and that something was going to have scary side effects. I was willing to accept the very small risk of things like cancer and serious infection if it meant I would be able to live a normal life. I couldn’t go on as I had been, scared to leave the house because I didn’t know how long I’d be able to be away from a bathroom.

One resource that helped me accept the risks of was a webcast from CCFA about biologics.* It made some important points:

  • The biggest threat to those with Crohn’s and UC is the disease itself.

  • The most serious side effects are very rare.

  • These medications can really improve your quality of life.

I think it’s important to find a doctor who you trust and who can clearly explain to you the risks and benefits of any medications they prescribe and address your concerns.

I’m starting 6MP this week and once again, I’m scared of the potential side effects. This time I’m not reading the package insert first (I’ll let my husband read it so someone knows what to look out for), so hopefully I won’t start imagining I have every possible side effect. But I know that my doctor prescribed it for a reason, and hopefully it will help me.

How do you deal with concerns about side effects of medications?

*I am a CCFA member. They are not affiliated with this blog in any way. I share their materials because I personally have found them helpful and reliable.