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What's the Side Effect of Avoiding Medication?

What's the Side Effect of Avoiding Medication?

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By Dr Irwin Lim, Rheumatologist

Most patients do ask about side effects.

Their pharmacists helpfully (and sometimes, not so helpfully) provide them lots of information about side effects.

Family and friends helpfully (and sometimes, not so helpfully) share stories about side effects.

The internet is a treasure trove of side effect stories.

“What if you develop this…..”

“I put on 30 pounds on that drug….”

“Made me sick as a dog………”

“Did you hear about that class action running because that drug causes……”

It’s not a bad thing to have an enquiring mind. I don’t expect people to take doctor’s advice or medication prescribed without thinking carefully about it.

I object when I don’t get a chance to discuss and clarify the actual risk.

I like to ask patients to consider the effect of not treating the disease, of not actually using a medication which may be effective in calming down the inflammation, effective in slowing down the progression of disease, effective in preventing deformity or pain or excessive suffering……

Sometimes it’s not clear cut and various options (including not taking any medication) need to be considered.

What I'm suggesting is that when you worry about the (potential) side effects of a medication, that you also worry about the side effects of not taking the medication.

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