• Hannah Ost

The Spoonie Sagas #3: Symptom Over Side Effect

If you have a chronic health condition, you have likely tried a whole host of medication. Usually, each medication is designed to treat one, or occasionally two, of your many symptoms. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But it almost always boils down to the same thing: Are the side effects of this medication bearable, in exchange for relief of this symptom?

As always, here's my story. If you have something to add, let me know in the comments below!

I have been on quite a few medications since my condition started eleven months ago. The first was prescribed to prevent dizziness - a vertigo medication, which also doubled up as an anti-schizophrenic drug. It prevented something from being produced in the brain (could have been dopamine, or adrenaline - I can't really remember!) and, as someone who had never taken much medication in the past, I was scared of it! It seemed so strong. So it stayed in the packet in my cupboard. Needless to say, I picked symptom over side effect.

After I'd been to hospital, I was given iron tablets, which made me constipated but raised my iron levels to normal again, so I picked side effect over symptom.

This is when things began to get more complex. PIzotifen, for migraines, gave me sleep paralysis, graphic nightmares for 2 months (even after I stopped taking it) and disrupted my periods (3 months on and they still haven't regulated). Amitriptyline, for migraines and insomnia, made me endlessly paranoid, without relief. I'd have a very deep sleep, but only if I could stop panicking to actually fall asleep in the first place! In both cases, I chose to suffer the symptom and stopped taking the medications.

Even supplements are an issue. Probiotics helped my asthma, but completely irritated my bowels (which you would think it was designed NOT to do!) B-vitamin complexes kept me more alert but made me nauseous. I've halved the dose I was taking of each and chose side effect over symptom.

This is a constant struggle for many people with chronic illnesses, always having to weigh up the side effects over the symptoms and decide which they prefer. I have recently been trying some herbal medications, which I have gotten along much better with and I hope someday to be able to make the switch to fully natural sources of relief! Here are a couple of things I've tried, that I've found to be useful:

Wood Betony/Agnus Castus/Feverfew - for irregular/painful periods

Valerian & Hops/Dormeasan - for insomnia/light sleepers

Have you experienced bad side effects with medication? Or have you tried herbal medication? Let me know in the comments below, or via my social medias at the top of the page! I hope you can find some relief for your symptoms.


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©2020 Hannah Ost

Student Journalist