For the majority of people with chronic health problems, medication is a necessity.
But unfortunately, medication often comes with side effects. Some can ease off after a short adjustment period, but sadly, some like to linger. We often get used to living with them, but some side effects are too difficult to cope with and make life utterly miserable.
I have listed a few possible side effects with suggestions which might help. Sometimes a few simple changes can make a difference, but if you are struggling to cope, do speak to your doctor about it. The medication could possibly be altered to make life better for you.
Track your side effects
In my post about doctors, I suggested using a pain diary to track and explain pain. I also think it’s a good idea to use a diary to track side effects. Doing this can let you and your doctor see how much the side effects are affecting you and when they are at their worst. You may find that the time you take them, what you eat when you take them or even your activity levels could be having an impact. This might let you see where some changes could be made.
You could use the pain diary I shared in that post.
- Use eye drops or gels regularly throughout the day
- Put warm, damp cotton pads underneath an eye mask at night
- Turn down the glare on screens
- Take regular computer breaks
- Avoid rubbing your eyes – small dust particles could scratch them
Tiredness and fatigue
- Health conditions are tiring. Put meds into the mix, and the tiredness can be overwhelming. So listen to your body and rest more.
- Snooze during the day. Set an alarm if you don’t want to sleep for too long. Even just a 30 minute nap can give us an energy boost
- Try to get quality sleep through the night. Healthy adults apparently need 7 – 9 hours sleep a night. But we’re not exactly healthy, are we? People with chronic health conditions probably need more
- Don’t become dehydrated – drink more water
- Eat healthy nutritious food
- Try to get some gentle exercise and fresh air. That’s not easy when you have health problems, but sometimes, even just a short walk can help
- Ask your doctor to do some blood tests, just in case there’s another reason for feeling like this
- Make a routine with a set time for going to bed
- Set an alarm for the same time every morning
- If you nap during the day, keep it short, by setting an alarm
- Wind down before trying to sleep by reading or listening to soft music – switch off computers and phones which will possibly keep you awake
- If something is on your mind, try writing it down, and letting go of it before going to bed
- Learn some breathing and relaxation techniques
- Speak to your doctor for help
That hungover feeling in the morning
- If you take meds before bedtime, try taking them an hour or two earlier. The effects might wear off sooner so you can wake up feeling less hungover
- Eat breakfast – don’t go without something to eat in the morning
- Try the traditional hangover cure – a bacon sandwich
- Drink more water
Brain fog (confusion, low concentration & forgetfulness)
- Try to get quality sleep
- Eat well and stay well hydrated
- Keep your brain active by doing puzzles, reading, crafts etc
- Try to rest, relax and chill – remember this isn’t your fault
- Keep notes and reminders so you don’t forget important appointments
- If it’s a big problem for you, speak to your doctor
- Sip water
- Take meds with food (if allowed)
- Eat small light meals regularly
- Drink ginger, fennel or peppermint tea
- Eat plain crackers or ginger snaps
- Breathe, long slow deep breaths
- Use aromatherapy oils in a diffuser or oil burner – chamomile, lavender, rose and lemon can help nausea
- Wear an anti-nausea wrist band (normally used for motion sickness)
- Ask pharmacist or doctor for help
- Drink more water – sip throughout the day
- Eat more high fibre foods, including fruit and vegetables
- Exercise if you can (just walking about in the house can help)
- Position – put a small step in your bathroom. Place your feet on it when you use the toilet. It raises your knees up and changes your body’s position, making it easier
- Don’t let it become a serious problem. Your pharmacist or doctor will be able to give you something to help
- Sip water to avoid becoming dehydrated
- Avoid caffeine, spicy or high fibre foods
- Ask your pharmacist about using over-the-counter medications to help.
- If you don’t improve see your doctor. If the meds are definitely causing it, they may need to be changed.
Weight gain can be a problem for many people who rely on meds. While some can increase the appetite, others actually change the body’s metabolism and even change how the body stores fats and sugars. Some meds can cause fluid retention which also causes a weight increase – it is important to speak to your doctor if this is the case.
- Try to be conscious about eating a balanced, healthy diet
- Speak to your doctor or see a dietitian if you need help
- Exercise if you can. However, many people with chronic illness are also fairly inactive due to their pain and mobility, so ask for help from your doctor or physiotherapist
- Get professional advice before trying diets which specifically cut out certain foods. Some might not be good for you and your condition, and some might cause a problem with meds
- Try to ensure you are eating a balanced diet with the correct amount of calories with foods rich in vitamins and minerals, otherwise, you could become deficient in important nutrients.
- Ask your doctor or a dietician for help
- If you are becoming underweight or feeling unwell (different from your normal unwell), see your doctor
- Try to avoid sunlight
- If you do go out, cover up
- Use high factor suncream
- Wear sunglasses
Serious side effects
As I said in my last post about meds, some side effects are serious. Most of these are uncommon side effects, but if you suffer from any of them, seek medical advice.
They may be caused by an allergic reaction and the meds may need to be stopped. Don’t do this on your own. Always get medical advice.
I know how awful side effects can be, so I really hope that some of these suggestions combined with the information in my last post can help make life a wee bit easier.
Do you despise taking meds because of their side effects?
Do you have any other tips? Please leave me a comment below and share my post with your friends.
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