• To help reduce the risk of serious infections with biologic agents, make sure you are up to date on all recommended vaccinations, such as those against pneumonia and the flu. Also, be vigilant about reporting anything more than the sniffles, as early treatment of airway infections can help prevent a more serious problem requiring hospitalization. A fever that lasts longer than a day or signs of a skin or urinary tract infection also should be evaluated promptly.
  • If you use pain medications, know what dose is safe for you and how to recognize acetaminophen as an ingredient.
  • Speak Your Mind

    Even the most informed patient may worry about starting a new drug or continuing with a therapy that causes bothersome side effects. It’s important that you let your doctor know your concerns; there may be alternative treatments or dosages you can try.

    “Doctors and patients often approach decisions about medications differently,” says Dr. Fraenkel. Doctors focus on finding the best treatment plan and may classify some side effects as less serious when weighing drug risks against disease risks. But to move ahead with a plan, a doctor needs to understand a patient’s perspective.

    “It’s not in your best interest to keep quiet,” says Dr. Fraenkel. “It’s much better to tell your doctor what worries you and why.” Then your doctor can begin to put what is important to you in context with what is important medically.

    If, after an honest discussion with your doctor, you decide you no longer want to take prescription drugs for your condition, make sure to tell your doctor. Stopping suddenly can have its own side effects, and it’s important for you to make the decision fully informed about what the disease, untreated, can do to your body over the long-term.

    “People often don’t think about things getting worse over time if their disease isn’t optimally treated,” says Dr. Fraenkel. “Refusal of therapy is not just refusing a risk. It’s also accepting, theoretically, increased risk of damage over time. That is why doctors feel strongly about pushing treatment, whereas patients may be more reluctant.” She recommends always discussing with your doctor what your life would be like if you chose not to take medication.

    Dr. Curtis agrees. “The flip side of the coin – the risks of doing nothing or staying the course – often is missed.”