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  • Writer's pictureMotto Health

You want me to take what? - 4 Common Autoimmune Medication Issues

Medication is often a key part of the strategy in improving autoimmune conditions. But medications come with all sorts of difficulties that many physicians often don’t consider–or don’t have enough time to address. For some people, it’s hard to keep track of complicated med regimens or cope with side effects. Others just hate the idea of swallowing so many pills and feel like there must be an alternative.

When you leave the doctor’s office, you shouldn’t feel alone in dealing with your medications. That’s why at Motto, Medication Management is one of our 7 Pillars of Care. Our physicians, nurse practitioners and health coaches are always easily reachable via our app to help you resolve your questions and problems so that your medications actually work the way they should.

What’s the problem?

When patients don’t take their meds the way they are prescribed, they often end up feeling lousy for longer than they need. Physicians might ask: “What’s the problem?” But we know there are a lot of things that can get in the way of taking meds. In fact, one quarter of people with RA don’t take their meds as prescribed. We know these people aren’t crazy! People make decisions based on a lot of different factors. Let’s look at some common medication issues we hear and how we address them.

#1 - “I don’t want to take a lot of medications”

Agreed! We don’t want you to take any more medications than necessary. Our goal is always to treat your condition with the least amount of medication that’s effective. That said, we don’t want you to take less medication than you need either. Every autoimmune condition is different, as is every person. So, we tailor a medication strategy specifically to you. But while there are big differences between autoimmune conditions, most have this in common: if untreated, they can get worse, both in the short and long term. We definitely don’t want that.

Here’s another important point: at Motto, medication is only one of our Pillars of Care, that is, just one part of our treatment strategy. We always pair medication with our holistic lifestyle program, which includes our other 6 Pillars of Care: diet, physical activity, emotional wellness, healthy coping, rest & sleep and social support. This holistic approach can actually reduce the need for medications and improve outcomes.

#2 - “I don’t even get why I need this.”

Too often, doctors prescribe a medication and don’t do a good enough job of explaining exactly why it’s necessary. We believe that every person needs to be empowered with complete information when it comes to meds. After all, it’s your body! Knowing why your doctor has prescribed a specific medication from the get-go also avoids confusion and complications down the road.

Every person’s condition is unique and you will have a 1:1 conversation with your rheumatologist about each of your medications so you can understand them in depth. But here’s a super high-level version of why we prescribe meds for autoimmune conditions:

  1. In the short term, we use medications to resolve or reduce pain and any other symptoms that are blocking you from living your full life.

  2. In the medium term and long term, we use them to control your condition and prevent damage or future complications.

#3 - “I can’t remember all these meds. It’s too complicated!”

We know. You’re right. There’s a lot to remember, like:

  • What’s the name (and generic name) of my medication?

  • What’s the dose?

  • When do I take it? Once each day, week, month?

  • Morning or night?

  • With or without food?

Who can memorize all this? And if you have multiple medications, it only gets more complicated. Our health coaches are here to help! Sometimes the hardest part is just getting into a good routine. We sit down with you right away to make a clear medication plan. This includes medication tracking tools, strategies for reminders and other handy tips that work for you.

#4 - “I’m afraid of the side effects.”

Side effects–or even just the fear of them–frequently get in the way of taking medications as prescribed. It’s scary to read the long list of side effects that any medication might have. But it’s really important to remember that side effects are possible, not probable.

They might happen, but it does NOT mean they definitely will happen. In fact, often they don’t! And if patients do experience side effects, we are prepared. Here’s how our approach to medication management differs from standard practice:

  1. Our app allows you to communicate with us anytime about side effects you may be experiencing. This allows us to identify any problems early and deal with them quickly.

  2. We work with you to determine whether any side effects you are experiencing are manageable and worth it. This happens through an open and honest conversation between you and our rheumatologists where you weigh short-term side effects against long-term gain.

  3. If the side effects are not manageable, then we change the medication. Again, this is something we do quickly so you don’t have to suffer, and we find a better option for you.

We think of the relationship between practitioner and patient as a true partnership, one in which the lines of communication are always open and there is trust. Medications are not always easy to get “just right.” They can involve some trial and error. But we are so fortunate to be living in a time when there are better medication options available for people with autoimmune conditions than ever before.

Our promise to you is that we will be with you through every step of the process until we get it right.

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