Polypharmacy in Psoriatic Arthritis Patients

If you're like me, you may have been diagnosed with several chronic illnesses. Not just psoriatic arthritis (PsA), but a host of other health conditions as well. It seems like every time I go to the doctor, I'm prescribed yet another medication to add to my daily routine.

I'm grateful for the relief that these medications can provide. I can't help but wonder about the potential risks of taking so many different drugs at once. I’m going on 6 decades of this madness.

What is polypharmacy?

Let's talk about something that's been on my mind lately - polypharmacy. I know it sounds like a fancy medical term. But it basically means taking multiple medications at the same time. As someone who's been dealing with psoriatic arthritis for years, I'm sure many of you can relate to having a bunch of different prescriptions to manage our symptoms.

What issues can arise with polypharmacy?

But here's the thing - polypharmacy can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, it can be necessary to take multiple medications to effectively manage our psoriatic arthritis symptoms. I mean, I personally take a cocktail of medications every day. This keeps my pain and inflammation under control. But on the other hand, taking too many medications can lead to a host of other problems.

Issue #1

For one, there's the issue of drug interactions. When you're taking multiple medications at once, there's a chance that they might interact with each other. I remember once I was prescribed a new medication for my arthritis. But when I went to pick it up at the pharmacy, the pharmacist warned me that it could interact badly with another medication I was taking. If I hadn't talked to the pharmacist and done my research, I could have potentially been putting myself in danger. (It still gives me goosebumps!!)

Issue #2

Another issue with polypharmacy is the risk of side effects. I'm sure many of us have experienced side effects from medications. Everything from nausea to fatigue to hair loss. When you're taking multiple medications, the risk of experiencing side effects only increases. It can be really frustrating to deal with side effects, especially when they're impacting your quality of life.

How can I minimize the risks?

So, what can we do to manage polypharmacy and minimize the risks? Well, for starters, it's important to talk to your doctor and pharmacist about all the medications you're taking. Make sure they know about any over-the-counter medications, supplements, or herbal remedies you're using as well. They can help you identify any potential drug interactions and adjust your medications accordingly.

It's also a good idea to keep track of your medications yourself. I’m old school so I have a little notebook where I keep track of every drug that I am consuming to have this information at hand.

Also, we need to be proactive in researching our medications and their potential interactions. We can ask our doctors or pharmacists for information and read the labels and inserts that come with our medications.

Lastly, we can consider other alternatives to medications, such as lifestyle changes, diet modifications, and natural remedies. In the last year, I was able to lose 60 pounds and come off some medications. Of course, this was not easy. For me, these options were a priority because lifestyle changes bring long-lasting changes and come without any side effects.

How have I managed?

In the past 6 months, I have come off 2 major medications. If everything goes well and I keep working hard I will be able to come off another on my next visit. I just turned 65 and I’m healthier than I’ve been in 30 years and not to mention – I look good!!!

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