If you’re interested in learning more about the drugs you are taking, including their potential side effects and possible interactions, the following resources for medication safety are useful places to start:
The Medline Drug Information Website
This site is a good source of information about drugs, including arthritis drugs.
American College of Rheumatology
In the Patient Education section of this website, you’ll find fact sheets about arthritis medicines.
As you look at a list of the side effects of a drug the doctor has prescribed for you, there are several points to keep in mind. Such lists are often long, and some of the side effects sound pretty unpleasant. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should rule out a drug. Some side effects are very rare. Some are mild, and some go away after you’ve been taking a drug for a while. Also, how important a drug is to your health has a lot to do with how willing you might be to risk or put up with an unpleasant side effect. In addition, just because a drug has the potential to cause particular side effects doesn’t mean that you will get them. Different people react differently to medicines. Some people, for example, can take a medicine such as methotrexate and experience no side effects at all, while others who take it develop liver problems. People with more than one medical condition and taking multiple drugs are, generally speaking, more likely to get side effects than others, and so are infants, young children, and older people. Part of your doctor’s job is to take factors like these into account when prescribing for you. Doctors can also suggest ways to ease some side effects, or lower the risk that you’ll get them. For example, when they prescribe long-term corticosteroids for an individual, they will also prescribe a drug designed to prevent osteoporosis, such as alendronate (Fosamax).