Don’t Just Take My Word For It: All of the drug names on the previous page of this article link to the “Drugs A-Z” tool in About.com. Take a look at what they have to say about each medication by clicking on the link. I really urge all of you to learn as much as you can about any medications that you are taking. Some other resources to help you find out more about your meds (or any that you might be considering) include:
- PDR: Another good place to find out information about a particular medication is at the PDR Health website, the consumer site maintained by the publishers of Physician’s Desk Reference, which may be the most up-to-date. This site also has nice detailed information about how the drug should be taken (with food, what to do if you forget a dose, etc.).
- Medline Plus: I actually like MedlinePlus, which is a service provided by the U.S. government (the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health). This site tends to include much more detailed information than I have seen anywhere else.
- Manufacturer’s Site: I also like going to the manufacturer’s website for the prescribing information available to physicians. Usually typing the drug name in to your search engine, such as Google or Yahoo, will get you to the site right away – most brand-name medications even have their very own site. This is where you are most likely to see any serious warnings first. By looking at the “Full Prescribing Information,” you are seeing everything the drug company wants the doctor to know, while avoiding language and images designed to convince you that you need this drug.
- And If You Are REALLY Interested: Go to PubMed and type in your drug’s name in to the search bar. Be prepared to see a large number of pretty obscure studies and scary case reports about the medication. If you type in “multiple sclerosis” and the medication name, however, you may come up with some pretty interesting abstracts.
This Doesn’t Mean You Have to Quit: Just because it looks as if one of your medications may be contributing to your fatigue, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the end of the drug for you. Ask your doctor for help figuring this out. He or she may have some ideas about taking it at a different time of day or taking it with food. Maybe splitting the dose would reduce the side effects or maybe it comes in a different form, such as a time-released version, that may be better for you. If none of these things seem like they will work, there may be all sorts of other things that the doctor can try, such as other medications or other types of therapy.
Think About Interactions Too: Maybe your medication wouldn’t cause fatigue if you didn’t take it at the same time as your other medications. Maybe it is not a good idea to wash it down with a margarita. Ask your doctor about these things.
Keep a Fatigue Log: When you are trying to pinpoint possible causes or contributors to your fatigue, it is important to keep a record of what you are experiencing, so that you can discuss it with your doctor. Make sure that you include your medications and when you took them.
But It’s Not a Pill: Even if your drug is not in tablet or injection form, it can still cause fatigue. Remember, patches, eye drops, nasal sprays and other methods of delivering medications are still getting the active ingredients in to your bloodstream in most cases. Simply put, if it can help a symptom and have a positive effect, it can also have side effects.