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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Addiction to opioids such as morphine, heroin and prescription painkillers is a growing global problem. Generally, opioids have an important role in the treatment of certain types of pain, but they have inherent risks and side effects, including being highly addictive. Even infrequent use can lead to dependence.
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.
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