Managing Drug Side Effects
How To Use This BookletThis booklet does not cover all of the possible side effects caused by drugs used to treat HIV and AIDS. Nor does it include all of the ways to control side effects. To make this booklet easier to use, we have only included information on some of the most common side effects associated with the most frequently used drugs. The index at the end of this booklet can help you locate information on a particular side effect.
This booklet also discusses some of the most popular ways to manage and prevent side effects. Some of the treatments discussed have been studied extensively in clinical trials, whereas others -- particularly the complementary therapies and alternative medicines -- have not been thoroughly studied. But there have been many informal studies and word-of-mouth reports. To help make some sense of this information, we have included some of the most popular complementary therapies used by people living with HIV to manage side effects.
A Word About Complementary Therapies and Nutrition
What do we mean by "complementary therapies?" In this handbook, complementary therapy is a general term used to mean alternative, holistic, natural, herbal, supplemental, or traditional (such as ancient Chinese) therapies. These include agents -- such as thioctic acid, DHEA, and NAC -- that are commonly sold in health food and sports nutrition stores and haven't been evaluated for their effectiveness by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Some complementary therapies -- such as herbs, vitamins, and other supplements -- may help manage side effects that damage particular parts of the body, such as the liver and gut. Other complementary therapies -- such as relaxation, yoga, acupuncture, Reiki, and exercise -- may not control a particular side effect but may instead help support the body as a whole. Doing so may enable your body to better tolerate medications and manage side effects. Good nutrition is another way to support your body, especially while taking drugs known to cause side effects. Eating whole, unprocessed foods from a variety of food groups will help supply your organs -- especially those that help the body control the toxic effects of medications -- with vital nutrients.
It is important to remember that simply because many complementary therapies can be purchased without a prescription does not mean that they are always safe to take. Some complementary therapies have their own side effects. It's also clear that many complementary therapies can interact with certain anti-HIV medications. This can further increase the risk of side effects or, quite possibly, reduce the effectiveness of the anti-HIV medications being used. Be sure to check with your health care provider before starting any complementary therapy.
This article was provided by AIDS Community Research Initiative of America. Visit ACRIA's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.