I have been living with pulmonary hypertension for more than two years. When I was first diagnosed, doctors thought I was a nitric oxide responder. They told me that was good because it meant there were more medications that could potentially help me. I was put on one medication and tested a few months later to see if it was working.
Unfortunately, although my pressures had come down, they hadn’t come down enough. So another treatment was added to the mix. Fast-forward two years, and I’m on four different medications. Thankfully, I am doing much better with this cocktail. I am grateful to live in a country where I have access to good healthcare. I know that’s not the case for many people living with PH around the world.
But being on four life-saving medications isn’t all peaches and cream. The side effects can be brutal. When I was on fewer medications, I would hear people in the PH community talk about the side effects they were experiencing and think to myself that I was one of the lucky ones. But I have been struggling the past few months after adding Uptravi (selexipag) to the mix.
I can already feel the positive effects this new treatment is having on my breathlessness. But the side effects are disruptive. A couple of hours after taking my medication I experience bad headaches, nausea, diarrhea, flushing of the skin, and pain in my muscles and joints. These are fairly common side effects, but they have made continuing to work problematic.
Side effects might not be what you consider when someone says they are chronically ill. But they can be a big part of the difficulties those with chronic illnesses face on a daily basis. In addition to the physical side effects, there’s the stress of constantly assessing whether the benefits outweigh the cost.
I have been encouraged by people in the PH community who have shared their stories of dealing with and overcoming side effects. I have learned many useful tips, including using peppermint oil and sickness bands for nausea, and CBD oil for joint pain.
Though the side effects have begun to interfere with my work, I remain positive about my body’s ability to overcome them. I try to focus on the fact that these medications are working together to put less strain on my heart and help me live a longer, more active life!
Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.
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