Many RA meds have one side effect in common: they can make your gastrointestinal system very unhappy. Acid reflux or GERD can make it feel as if there's a roiling vat of acid burning up your midregion. Then there's nausea, bloating, gas and constipation or diarrhea that can feel very similar to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Speak to your doctor about your symptoms. If they seem to be side effects of your medications, most of the time, it's possible to find a way to manage them.
1. Acidophilus or probiotic. Probiotics are a type of live microorganisms that can help to balance the natural bacteria in your gut. As they do, they may also balance the functioning of your bowels, addressing both constipation and diarrhea. In my experience, they can also work wonders in reducing acid. My naturopath recommended that I buy the good stuff from the health food store, keep it in the fridge and take one or two doses a day with meals. The only "side effect" can be loose stools if you're taking too much. If that happens, reduce the dose and you should be okay.
2. Ginger. Ginger can be a wonderful aid to help control nausea. In fact, a recent study showed that it could significantly reduce chemotherapy-related nausea in cancer patients. Buy fresh ginger in the grocery store, cut a piece and peel it. Slice or grate the ginger and add it to dishes such as stirfries for a wonderful flavor. Placing a small piece about the size of a nickel in hot water can make a soothing drink. Add a squeeze of lemon or a bit of honey depending on your preference. You can also buy ginger root supplements. As is always the case with supplements, talk to your doctor before you start taking anything new.
3. Hot Drinks and teas. Caffeinated beverages, such as coffee and tea, can be hard on an upset stomach. Instead, try herbal varieties, such as peppermint, and (again) ginger teas. Years ago, my shiatsu therapist told me about hot water with a small slice of lemon - oddly enough, it can work miracles on acidic stomachs. It can also be very soothing if your stomach is upset. Cut a fairly thin slice of lemon into four pieces. Add one of these quarter pieces to a cup of boiling water. If it tastes sour, the piece of lemon is too big.
4. Eat. Eating is the last thing you want to do when you stomach is upset, but it can help keep the acid down to a dull roar. If your stomach is empty, you're going to feel the symptoms of acid even more. Avoids foods that can trigger acid reflux and stick to mild, blind foods such as steamed chicken and fish, rice, bread and crackers.
5. Eat specific foods. If your medication make you constipated, including high-fiber foods in your diet can help you get more regular. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, choose high grain breads instead of white, learned to love high-fiber cereals (many of them are very tasty) and snack on trail mix instead of cookies. If you get diarrhea, stay away from high-fiber foods until it's resolved. Certain foods such as nuts, beef, blueberries and white rice can make you constipated, so they might help.