Ask a Pharmacist: Evaluating the Different Types of Arthritis Medications

Arthritis is a painful inflammation and stiffness in the joints that can cause stifling pain for individuals suffering from it. There are many different types of arthritis, each requiring different drug treatments. Just a few of the various types of arthritis include:

Osteoarthritis - This is the most common form of arthritis, which can be caused by aging joints, injury, or obesity-related joint pain and stiffness.

Rheumatoid Arthritis - This type of arthritis is symmetrical—it affects the joints on both sides of the body. For example, if the arthritis pain was in the knees, it would occur in both knees, not just one.

Lupus - This is a chronic inflammatory disease caused by the immune system attacking its own tissues and organs. This can affect the joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart, and lungs.

According to our CEO and in-house pharmacist, Ken Hammond, the drug treatments for the different types of arthritis can vary, but they most commonly fall into four categories. These include analgesics, NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), corticosteroids, and biologics. We will break down these categories of medication with an example for each.

Analgesics 

Analgesics are painkillers. These painkillers can range from over-the-counter medications like Tylenol to prescription items such as tramadol or hydrocodone. They can relieve pain, but not inflammation, in people with arthritis. Depending on the level of pain, analgesics can be taken as needed or may need to be taken regularly.

NSAIDS

NSAIDS, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. While they do not slow the arthritis down, they do help manage the chronic pain, inflammation, and swelling that comes with it.

These medications work by blocking the “Cox” enzymes in the body. These medications include Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Celebrex, Lodine, and more.

Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids are highly effective pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory drugs typically taken by arthritis patients. These medications are used to ease joint pain, stiffness, and bone deterioration that typically comes with arthritis. These medications also suppress autoimmune attacks that cause flare-ups in arthritis patients.

These medications include Prednisone, Dexamethasone, and Prednisolone.

Biologics

Also known as biologic response modifiers, biologics are genetically engineered proteins derived from human genes. These are injections that fiercely reduce inflammation, and are known to work when other medications do not.

Different types of biologics include Humira, Orencia, and Kineret.

For more information on all of these options, view our drug info page and print our free discount card to receive discounts on your medications.

Ask a Pharmacist: Evaluating the Most Common Medications for Allergies

Allergy season: the time of year where many of us need medication for quick relief from the itchy eyes and sneezing. There are many different allergy medications to choose from, all of which claim to solve different allergy complications. Our CEO and lead pharmacist, Ken Hammond, has broken down the most frequently prescribed allergy medications and the most common over-the-counter medications to explain how they can relieve allergy symptoms.

“All of the drugs mentioned have a variety of mechanisms of action, the most common being antihistamines and anti-inflammatory agents,” Hammond said.

Over-the-Counter Allergy Medications

“The most commonly recommended allergy medications are those available over the counter, all of which originally required a prescription. These include Benadryl, Chlor-Trimeton, Claritin, Allegra, Zyrtec, and Flonase,” Hammond said.

Benadryl - Benadryl is used to suppress coughs and to treat itching, runny nose, sneezing, and watery eyes. Benadryl is effective; however, its most common side effect is sleepiness, so pharmacists recommended using caution if driving while on the medication.

Chlor-Trimeton - Chlor-Trimeton is an antihistamine that relieves sinus congestion and pressure. Common side-effects of this medication include dizziness, sleepiness, and a dry mouth, nose, and throat.

Claritin - Claritin is a common antihistamine used to treat most allergy symptoms, including sneezing, itching, and watery eyes. Claritin can also be used to treat hives. Claritin can cause wheezing and flu-like symptoms in young children and can cause headaches in those over the age of 12.

Allegra - Allegra is typically used for seasonal allergies, especially in the springtime. It can also be used to treat itchy skin. Allegra’s most common side effect is nausea, but it can also cause body aches.

Zyrtec - Zyrtec treats most allergy symptoms: sneezing, itching, and runny nose. It can also treat swelling due to hives. However, Zyrtec is known to slow thinking or physical reactions as a side effect. It can also cause irritability.

Flonase - Flonase is a nasal spray that works as an anti-inflammatory to relieve nasal congestion. If there is irritated skin in the nose, this nasal spray is known to cause minor nose bleeds.

Prescribed Allergy Medications

“Of those allergy medications that still require a prescription, Singulair and Xyzal are popular oral medications, and Astelin nasal spray and Patanol eye drops are also fairly popular. Prednisone is also commonly prescribed for allergic reactions,” Hammond said.

Singulair - Singulair helps to prevent the chemicals that cause allergies in your lungs. It is very commonly used to prevent asthma attacks, but it is also used to help those with year-round allergies. As a side effect, it can cause stomach pain, bloody noses, or heartburn.

Xyzal - Xyzal is most commonly used for year-round allergies, and can also treat hives. It has no major side effects, but can cause body aches and sleepiness.

Astelin - Astelin is a nasal spray that treats seasonal allergies, typically in the springtime, and prevents sneezing and runny nose. Its most common side effect is a bitter taste in the mouth, and it can also cause sleepiness.

Patanol - Patanol is used in the form of eye drops and treats irritated and red eyes due to allergies. Although it is applied directly to the eyes, its most common side effects are headaches or sore throats.

Prednisone - Prednisone reduces inflammation in the body, and treats not only allergies, but skin conditions, arthritis, and breathing conditions as well. Prednisone has several side effects, and a doctor should be contacted immediately if one occurs. Some of these include aggression, blurred vision, mood changes, and weight gain.

Speak with your pharmacist about your symptoms if you need assistance choosing the best allergy medication option for you or a loved one. Together with your physician, your pharmacist can help find a solution to alleviate your discomfort during allergy season.

The free Community Cares Rx discount card can provide up to 70% discounts on various prescription allergy medications. View our pharmacy locator to see which pharmacies near you are our partners, and print your discount card today.

How to Navigate Allergy Season When You Have Asthma

In allergic asthma - the most common type of asthma - the same allergens that cause sneezing and watery eyes in most people can trigger serious asthma attacks. This condition is more serious in children; 90% of children have asthma and allergies, opposed to only 50% of adults.

Allergic Asthma is triggered by the same allergens that cause allergies, including dust, pollen, and mold. It can also be triggered by exercise or breathing smoke. For patients wanting to navigate the high-allergen season, knowing the triggers for allergic asthma is key.

Clean Indoor Air

There is only so much we can avoid when it comes to outdoor allergens, so it’s important to control what can trigger an asthma attack indoors. One of the best ways to do this is to purchase a HEPA filter. HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) mechanical filters force air through mesh to capture allergens such as pollen, pet dander, smoke, and dust. This should be kept in the bedroom, where you sleep.

Other allergens that can be avoided within an indoor space include:

  • Tobacco Smoke
  • Pet Dander
  • Perfume
  • Cleaning supplies that produce strong chemical odors

Fortunately, there are many treatment options for allergic asthma that make allergy season less of a threat. With Community Cares Rx, many of these options can be purchased at a discount.

Short-Acting Bronchodilators - These rescue inhalers are the typical go-to medication for an asthma patient, and act very quickly in the time of need. These open up the airways in the lungs and their effects last four to six hours.

Long-Acting Bronchodilators - These are similar to short-acting bronchodilators, but should be used only twice a day and last up to 12 hours. This form of medication should never be taken alone and should be taken with inhaled steroids.

Inhaled Steroids - Through a portable breathing device, this medication can be inhaled to decrease the inflammation of the lungs. This can strengthen the lungs over time and may help decrease dependence on a rescue inhaler.