How Do You Deal With Medication Side Effects?

I'm wired on prednisone, jittery from all the albuterol and my gut is screaming from the antibiotics! I have not had a protracted flare like this in a very long time. I can't just shut down and deal with side effects for the short term.

How do manage to maintain a reasonable lifestyle with med side effects?

I'm taking probiotics to counter the antibiotics, but that's only partially working. I just don't know how to manage all the jitters and short temper! And wanting to eat all.the.time!


Comments 37

  • Kathy P

    Thanks! I appreciate that! I'm headed back to the doc now for (likely) asteroid shot and see what the results of the sinus CT are.

  • K8sMom2002

    Kathy P, on dealing with all this. I saw on another thread that you're able to stop the antibiotics, right? That's good.

    One way I deal with med side effects is to control what I can control. 

    I might not be able to control the tummy troubles of antibiotics, but I can

    • make sure I take/eat probiotics 
    • eat a diet rich in pre-biotics — lots of veggies and few processed foods.

    I might not be able to control insomnia, but I can

    • try to have good sleep hygiene
    • turn the lights down low in the evening
    • limit screen time late in the evening,
    • take a dip in a warm pool or a hot tub or take a long shower or soak in a tub
    • go to bed at a decent time, even if I don't think I'll be able to sleep
    • use a podcast, earbuds and my sleep timer on my phone to lull me to sleep instead of the television

    I might not be able to control the mood swings and jittery feeling prednisone and albuterol give me, but I can relieve stress by

    • taking a walk early in the evening, either by myself or with other people
    • do yoga or meditation or prayer or just lie down in a quiet room for 10 or 15 minutes
    • doing self-care things like read a good book or use paper plates for supper or cook quick, easy meals
    • giving myself permission to put off "elective" major decisions and ask for help on the mandatory major decisions that I can't put off
    • managing my expectations and reminding myself that expectations minus reality equals disappointment
    • setting up my life so that routine things are automatic 
      • auto draft bill pay
      • reminders on my phone or my computer calendar
      • planning out a menu ahead that simply repeats so that I can have a pre-printed grocery list
    • seeking out a counselor who has experience with chronic health conditions if things are feeling really out of control for me

    I might not always be able to control my tongue when the 'roid rage strikes or when I get so frustrated at not feeling well, but I can

    • have an accountability partner who will remind me in a gentle way that I'm overstepping
    • explain to people that I might not be quite "myself" and to accommodate me when they can
    • remind myself that just because I AM on prednisone or I AM sick, that's no excuse for me to be uncivil. 
    • put up sticky notes in lots of places to remind myself that 
      • this is for NOW, and maybe not forEVER
      • feelings are not necessarily facts
      • this too shall pass

    I might not be well and healthy and "whole," and I might resent other people for being able to continue with their lives when I feel like mine is on "hold," but I can

    • follow my doctor's orders
    • understand my health issues and my doctor's plan
    • be an active and informed advocate for ME with my doctor and my medical team
    • avoid doing things that make it worse
    • do things that make it better
    • be grateful and recognize at least one positive thing that happened each day — and by positive, I don't mean the absence of a negative, but something that actually is good, even if it's as simple as, "The sunrise was beautiful today."


  • Jen

    Cynthia – Thanks for that!   I think some of that advice is so useful for all kinds of situations.  I have had a rather long and stressful day that has left me all kinds of tired and grumpy, so these were some good reminders.  

    Kathy – The other thing that is important is to mention these side effects to the doctor.  Sometimes (though not always) they are able to make some changes to hopefully lessen some of the side effects.

  • K8sMom2002

    Good reminder, Jen! 

    And I will confess that while I CAN do all the things I mentioned above, I'm not always good about them. Sleep hygiene is one of my biggest downfalls, and it's SUCH low-hanging fruit.

    If you don't sleep well, you're not giving your body time to heal and refresh itself. Last night I stayed up way too late working on a project for some other parents, and then I was too wired to sleep. The alarm clock came too early this AM!

    I hope your day goes better!

  • Emilee R Ashline

    I had this the other day. I am on Vyvanse, which is a stimulant to treat ADHD and I had to use my albuterol yesterday and let me tell you I was shaky and jittery for a couple hours. But I kept trying to do things to keep me busy so I wouldn't notice

  • Kathy P

    One thing I've noticed, and it seems really odd, is that I get more jittery if I take my inhaler (either preventative or rescue) when I have not eaten. I usually take my preventative right away in the morning – it lives on the bedside table. Otherwise, I'd forget to come back and take it. Since I have been really regimented about taking it, I started noticing that I was getting jittery. I guess it's the long acting bronchodialator?? I've not had that effect with previous one (Advair) I'm also taking reflux meds which means I have to wait 30 min to eat.

    Sooooo……I've adjusted the timing on that and that is helping a lot with the jitters.

    Sleep is serious issue when the meds cause insomnia! I've tried things like meditation and herbal tea, but I have not found much that will counteract steroid insomnia. But I think the shot is wearing off and hope that I can get a good night's sleep tonight.

  • K8sMom2002

    Glad the timing has helped! 

    And yes, medication-induced insomnia is for the birds. It's the reason I don't take decongestants at night, Benadryl at night or hydrocodone EVER. I hope the shot wears off and you can get some sleep.

  • Gloria

    I keep my meds right near my toothbrush and use them right before I brush my teeth. That way I never miss a dose.

    Kathy P, you mentioned that you used to take Adviar. That's what I use. But what are you using now? My doctors have tried me on Breo (leg cramps), Symbicort (leg cramps) and Dulera. But Advair causes me no problems.

  • Kathy P

    I've used Symbicort in the past and I don't recall when/why we switched to Advair. Recently, the doc switched me from Advair to Dulera. But, I'm suspicious that the vocal cord / laryngitis issue that I can't shake is a side effect of the Dulera. I have a message I to the doc, but he's not in on Friday.

  • jujutsumaster

    Great news!

    Hi folks, it's good to be back in the USA for a few days. Arrived North Carolina yesterday.

  • Emilee R Ashline

    I get jittery when I use my albuterol because I am on a stimulant for ADHD called Vyvanse and between the two, I get tremors real bad. I usually try to keep busy and it will usually go away within an hour or two for me 

  • Kathy P

    That's interesting that the stimulants seem to add to the effect Emillee. Have you noticed any difference on time of day? Like is it worse if you use the albuterol soon after the Vyvanse has kicked in and better once it's wearing off for the day?

  • K8sMom2002

    Kathy P, on the steroid affects going away … Yay!

    Nigel, glad you're on our side of The Pond! Hope you enjoy your stay and that it's asthma free!

    Emilee, I've found that I will build up a tolerance to the worst of the jitters with the albuterol, but it's worse if I load up on caffeine — have you talked to your doctor about the jitters? Glad you've figured out a way to manage it!

  • Jen

    Kathy – I wonder if the jitters are because you haven't eaten yet, so the combo of low blood sugar and the albuterol does it.  

  • Kathy P

    It definitely seems blood glucose related. I have a meter but no test strips anymore.

  • K8sMom2002
    jujutsumaster posted:

    Great news!

    Hi folks, it's good to be back in the USA for a few days. Arrived North Carolina yesterday.

    @jujutsumaster, just checking in to see if you have had a good visit? Hope so!

  • Jen

    Speaking of medication side effects, the decongestant I'm using is making be a tad sleepy.  I know it's supposed to be the non-drowsy formula, but pseudoephedrine seems to have that effect on me.  Still, I was tired of feeling like I had cotton in my ears, so I wanted to take something.  I have a previously scheduled check up with my primary tomorrow, so I'll have him take a look and maybe give me some suggestions.  In the meantime, I'm trying to drink lots of water.

  • Kathy P

    Ugh on the sudafed side effects – I never like the way decongestants make me feel. I will occasionally use Afrin nose spray to open things up.

    Glad you have an appointment to get things checked out.

  • K8sMom2002

    Speaking of decongestants, I need to call around and see if perhaps our local pharmacist has a safe corn-free decongestant for DD. There are a couple of brands at independent pharmacists that work, but we don't have them here in our small town. She's down to three safe "Sudafed" tablets.

  • Jen

    My doctor has me trying flonase instead of the mucinex D.  I'm wiped out enough from the congestion and can't deal with the extra fatigue from the meds.

  • jujutsumaster

    K8SMOM2002 Yes thank you I had a great trip to NC. It was good to meet up and teach old friends again. Always an eager and receptive group. Also did quite a bit of touring historic Wilmington.

    Asthma fine most of the time – just a few puffs of Salbutamol.

    Think I'm having problem with a new blood pressure med since returning home but will start a new post.

    Edited to insert photos into body of reply – CRR 11-04-2016  

  • K8sMom2002

    Jen, hope the Flonase works … and I hope you bounce back soon!

    Jujutsumaster, that looks like a fun trip! 

  • Kathy P

    Glad your asthma cooperated on your trip Nigel! Sounds like a fun time!

    Jen – most of us here use Flonase (and I've suggested it to dh who is constantly clearing his throat from pnd!) Hopefully it will help!

  • Shea

    One hippy friend told me to bless my medications before I take them every day. So, I just do it whenever I remember to…. I say "please only affect me positively" and then I take it. And, it may work somewhat. I have noticed things like, I do not fight the insomnia when I have to go up on prednisone during flares… instead I kind of embrace it and use that time to do awesome things I never would normally have time to do– I think it is OK because the prednisone is "giving" me that extra energy, so I might as well use it… so I stay up and watch like 5 episodes of a new TV series and I just LOVE it, or I do an art project, and I notice there is a kind of cool creativity in the prednisone weirdness. 

    When I have to go up on prednisone, I do get lots of angst during the day, and I try to work the aggression off by doing things that normally I do not have energy to do or am too scared to do because it would inflame my asthma…. like deep cleaning in the house and yard, or having lunch with my family members who own cats that I usually do not like to be around them because the cat hair on their clothes can affect me badly. I feel like at least I am getting the most out of having to go up (because, for real, it sucks having to go up on it and I have gotten myself feeling so bad in the past before giving in and going up, and that was not good for me, so I decided not to let it get that bad and instead, go to the doctor, bite the bullet, and bless the med!

    Then, as I taper down each week or 2 weeks to get back to my maintenance dose, I try to listen to my body and take it extra easy the first few days. But, I forget to do that A LOT… actually I thought about going down on my prednisone tomorrow AND gardening, and I realized just now I should not do both…. so I probably will not garden tomorrow. I will just try to do nothing at all… that is so hard for me, which seems silly.

    I DO think it is best to avoid certain people when I am on high prednisone, AND avoid political online forums! But it is not always possible. I do let family know when I am on a high dose.. so hopefully they know not to try to mess with me at that time. But, I even think my explosiveness can be useful when on that medication, it is just my body defending itself, and when I am on less prednisone I have fatigue a lot (I think from adrenal insufficiency as a result of long-term use combined with the disease itself) and am often too tired to defend myself from people, so they can get on me a lot, and I just take it… which is not really good. I find prednisone is a protector and helps to release pent up aggression in its own way.. it surely allows for honesty to shine through like a fire…. although I am trying to learn ways to not allow inflammation and aggression to build up by better managing things when I am on my lower maintenance doses… balance is difficult when changing doses… I am just trying to be as self-compassionate as possible, and creating win-win situations for myself, as well as embracing the side effects I used to curse, or negotiating with them.   

    Sometimes I like to wake up at like 7am, take my prednisone with a glass of milk, then go back to bed until 9am, THEN have my morning coffee and breakfast. It just really seems to affect my whole day better when I do it in that order… so I am a total believer in order of operations and trying to work with the positives as much as possible to cope with prednisone.

    As far as cough medicine…. last time I took it, it made me feel kind of loopy drunk, and I do not drink anymore, I used to but I stopped, I decided until I am healthy I am not drinking alcohol at all and have been doing that for years now–I actually found any time I would make an exception my asthma would flare, so alcohol is no good for me now. Anyways when I had to take the cough medicine, I found it very relaxing, reminiscent of alcohol, so that was fine with me. But I did take some Melatonin sleep aid with it at night because I was fighting a sickness and felt I needed the sleep, and it did keep me up at night sometimes so the melatonin was good to counter that effect. The melatonin gave me weird dreams and made it slightly harder to get outta bed in the morning, but it is a natural chemical and helps with natural regulation, so I like that as a sleep aid if I need one (I do not use it often, and it is not habit-forming as far as I have ever read or heard).

  • K8sMom2002
    Shea posted:

    I am just trying to be as self-compassionate as possible, and creating win-win situations for myself, as well as embracing the side effects I used to curse, or negotiating with them.   


    Shea, this sounds like a great goal!

  • Kathy P

    Reframing things to take advantage of the extra "energy" is a great idea! If you know what is going to happen, might as well embrace it and use it to your advantage.

    Is the cough med with codeine? I get a paradoxical reaction to codeine – it makes me wired and shakey! And I can't sleep! My dad had the same reaction to codeine – he had it as pain relief when he was burned as kid and said it was like having the DT's – he was shaking that bad!

  • Jen

    Shea – I like your game plan with the prednisone.

    So…I started the flonase on Friday.  Seems to be helping.  I can tell there is residual congestion, but it seems to be less than it was.  My ears don't feel quite as clogged either.  Much better than the loopy feeling from the decongestant.