When easing the pain turns fatal: The big problem with opioids and anti-anxiety drugs

You may or may not have heard that opioid painkiller use has skyrocketed into epidemic proportions, with deadly overdoses on the rise. For example, The Washington Post reported that between 1999 and 2014, deadly opioid overdoses among middle-aged white women shot up 400 percent. But it’s not just opioid use we have to worry about. In fact, anti-anxiety drugs called benzodiazepines contributed to many of those deaths, even as much as a third of them in recent years.

A natural pain reliever after a tooth extraction

Often, dentists send their patients home with pain medicine after a procedure. You may have been given ibuprofen for pain and inflammation. But what you may not know is that ibuprofen carries risks, including ulcers, gastritis, kidney problems and high blood pressure. Most of these side effects won’t occur with just one dose, but you may consume enough ibuprofen over the course of your entire recovery to be cause for concern.

Be proactive when mixing prescription drugs

More than likely, either you or someone close to you is taking a prescription drug. Sometimes, people take multiple medications to manage coexisting health problems, like diabetes and hypertension. This is called polypharmacy. But while keeping your medical conditions under control is important, polypharmacy can become a problem when too many medications are prescribed by multiple specialists working independently of each other, or when drug interactions occur because no single doctor knows your complete medication picture.

Over-prescribing opioids: Where does this problem stem from?

We’ve recently reported on the tremendous overuse of prescription painkiller drugs in this country. Almost everyone knows someone on Vicodin, Percocet, or Norco. Some patients have trouble getting off the drugs, and part of the problem is over-prescribing. So, where is this over-prescribing coming from?

Opioid overdoses on the rise

The U.S. is experiencing an epidemic in drug overdose deaths, the CDC says, and misuse of opioid painkillers are a big part of the problem. Since 2000, overdose deaths from opioids have risen 200 percent. In 2014, there were approximately one and a half times more drug overdose deaths than deaths from car crashes in the U.S.

Why your doctor said no to the antibiotic

You’ve got a cold and some body aches. You believe you may need an antibiotic, but your doctor doesn’t want to write the prescription. When doctors say not to take an antibiotic, they aren’t necessarily “denying” their patients. Rather, it’s a sign that they did a good physical exam and medical history, and determined that a virus is the cause of illness. Generally, the term “antibiotic “refers to medicine that is designed to kill bacteria.

Taking Synthroid? Be proactive for your thyroid!

Many patients with hypothyroidism are given a prescription drug called levothyroxine sodium (one of the branded versions is called Synthroid), a synthetic hormone replacement for the hormone normally produced by your thyroid (T4) to regulate the body’s energy and metabolism. According to research firm IMS, Synthroid is the most prescribed drug in America, at 21.6 million prescriptions between April 2014 through March 2015.

Be proactive: Know which nutrients are depleted by your prescription drug

Nutrients – you can’t function without them! Critical nutrients – such as vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, carbs and water – are essential for metabolism, energy and repair. They are the fuel that keeps your body functioning. As these nutrients are used up by the body’s metabolic activities, they need to be replaced – or you may end up with problems. But did you know that common medications may deplete the body of vital nutrients? It is very important that you be proactive and make sure you understand which nutrients are being depleted by the medications you take.

Be an informed patient: Statin among top-prescribed drugs

In 2014, the No. 1 most prescribed drug in America was branded rosuvastatin, or Crestor. IMS Health conducted a survey of the most commonly prescribed branded drugs, and this cholesterol-lowering pill came out on top with over 22 million prescriptions. FDA-approved in 2003, Crestor has been marketed as the most potent statin. Statin drugs stop an enzyme from making cholesterol in the body, sending LDL levels downward and making cardiologists and internists happy. But it’s not enough to just change a blood test result.

Be proactive about overuse and misuse of antibiotics in nursing homes

Approximately 4.1 million Americans are admitted to or reside in nursing homes and long-term care facilities each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Although there are many health challenges these residents face, one of them is risk for infections, due to their age and disability. Unfortunately, the overuse and sometimes inappropriate use of antibiotics to treat suspected infections has led to antibiotic resistance, making the drugs less effective and complicating treatment.

Drug price super spike? Be proactive about toxoplasmosis to avoid it

By now, you’ve likely heard about the pharmaceutical company that raised the price of the drug Daraprim from $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill, sparking widespread outrage and a media firestorm. In response, the CEO has gone on record to say the pill price will indeed be lowered, but just how much is still yet to be seen. Drug companies understand supply and demand, but as a consumer, you’re the one left with the bill. So let’s look at some ways you can be proactive.

Statin controversy: Lowering cholesterol at the expense of antioxidants?

Statins are one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in America, because heart disease and stroke are some of the most commonly diagnosed diseases. Although they have saved many lives, controversy about their use still exists. Earlier this year, an abstract from a pharmacology journal (of a clinical hypothesis, not a research study) created some buzz among patients active on disease message boards. The authors of the piece think that because statins reduce levels of the potent antioxidant glutathione, the resulting lack of antioxidants could trigger bad outcomes like heart disease.

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