WAIT! Read this before you stop your meds5 years ago | Prescription Drugs
By pH health care professionals
We’ve all cheated a bit on a long antibiotic course — stopped taking the medication a few days early. But there are instances when stopping your medication suddenly can do a lot of harm. Think about these scenarios:
- Antibiotic resistance. This is what you promote when you don’t complete a course of antibiotics. The medication needs time to accumulate in your body and kill the bacteria. This explains a lot of “second urinary tract infections”— it’s the same one, still alive.
- Rebound symptoms. This can happen when you stop a medication for your heart, blood pressure or diabetes. Sudden elevations in blood pressure, for example, land many people in the hospital with strokes or heart attacks when medications are stopped. Thyroid medications should not be stopped for similar reasons; once the level in your blood drops, symptoms can appear.
- Incomplete treatment. Just as with antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs and steroids (for asthma, for example) are prescribed for a longer period of time to fully treat the condition. Clinical studies have proven that the drug works if given as long as your doctor is recommending.
- Discontinuation syndrome. This is a phenomenon seen with psychiatric drugs. According to psychologists writing for PsychCentral, you might experience the following when stopping an antidepressant or schizophrenia medication:
- Dizziness, vertigo or ataxia (problems with muscle coordination)
- Paresthesia (tingling or pricking of your skin), numbness, electric-shock-like sensations
- Lethargy, headache, tremor, sweating or anorexia
- Insomnia, nightmares or excessive dreaming
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
- Irritability, anxiety, agitation or low mood
Doctors need to know when you are stopping medication so that they can help you mitigate any side effects and advise you as to the wisdom of discontinuation. If you don't like a medication, communicate effectively with your medical office to get the safest outcome. There may be alternative therapies that you can try rather than being without treatment altogether.
If you feel like your voice is not being heard, you’re not sure about your current treatment plan or you are having trouble communicating with your doctor, you may benefit from a patient advocate.
Enjoy Your Healthy Life!
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