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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
OxPARC

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Medicines

Medicines, also known as drugs, are given to help you. They may help straight away by reducing discomfort or allowing a joint move better, or they may help protect you for the future by stopping repeat flares of your condition and preventing damage.

We now know a lot about JIA and other conditions, so we know which medicines may help you, but we also want you to know what you are taking and why - no one likes taking medicine just because they are told to! There are usually several options so if one doesn’t work for you or has unpleasant side effects then another one might be better.

What medicines will I be given?

In deciding which medicines to prescribe we balance the benefit against the inconvenience and the possibility of side effects. We will discuss treatment options and their benefits with you.

How is medicine given?

Not all medicines are the same and most can be given in a number of ways. Sometimes there is a choice so ask if you are having problems.

Medicines may come as:

  • liquid or syrup
  • tablets
  • injections
  • infusions (via a drip in hospital)

Many patients worry about injections, but once they start they realise it is usually straightforward. Having the first injection can be a big hurdle and we can help you get started. This may include talking to our Nurse Specialist and/or our psychologist.

How will the medicine make me feel?

Most of our medicines are very good at doing what they are supposed to. The time taken for medications to take effect is variable so you may not see an immediate improvement. Some can take up to 3 months to become fully effective, while others will work sooner.

Sometimes medicines may cause a reaction which isn't so good. This is called a side effect. It is important you tell us if you have any side effects. If they are mild often we can manage them with other medicines but sometimes we have to change the medicine you take.

We always try to find the right medicine for you so it’s important you tell us if you’re struggling.

How long will I have to take the medicine?

Our aim is to achieve remission of your condition. The time this takes is variable. Some medications may be short-term to fix a problem so we'll only give you medicine for a few weeks.

However, medicines designed to keep the inflammation at bay are continued for long periods and sometimes even into adulthood. This means you might need to keep taking the medicine even after the problem has gone away to prevent further problems.

Stopping medication

It is always best to plan stopping medications and have chance to discuss your reasons for wanting to do this. It is important that you are involved in these discussions and be open and honest with us so we can help you to achieve the best outcome.

Stopping medication too soon or suddenly may cause a flare in your condition so we can help with planning this around exams and/or gradually weaning treatment.

Many of our medications are very expensive and we ask you to inform us if you are no longer taking these so we can avoid unnecessary waste by cancelling prescriptions and deliveries.

If you have any further questions after reading this, we will be more than happy to talk to you in clinic or discuss via phone or email.