Do you ever find yourself in the middle of taking all your meds and wonder, “Do I really need ALL of these meds?”
Maybe it’s when you’re filling your pillbox, paying your bill at the pharmacy, or double checking your list at the doctor’s office.
As a pharmacist working in a primary care clinic, this is a common question I hear from people taking anywhere from 5 to 25 medications. I’m always amazed at people who trust their doctors enough to be willing to take multiple medications for years and not really know what how they are benefiting from them.
Here’s where I want to tell you a secret: Only you know the answer to this question. You might think, “Shouldn’t my doctor know the answer to this question?” No! Stick with me here and I’ll explain why.
Every medication has a risks versus benefit argument. Prescription drugs are prescription only because of their inherent risk. That’s why they are prescription and not available over-the-counter. You should have a basic understanding of how your meds are benefiting you and their value in your life. Conversely, you should know the risks of each of your medications: side effects that you and your doctor should watch out for and how the medication impacts your life and your pocketbook. In the end, you are the boss of you and decide whether or not to take that pill everyday.
So why is it that the meds just get piled on? There are a couple of reasons for this:
- The prescribing cascade, which is essentially adding another medication to combat the side effects of a medication you are already taking. Kinda like, “I take potassium to replace potassium loss caused by the Lasix I take for the edema that is a side effect of amlodipine that I take to treat the high blood pressure that is caused by the Effexor I take for depression that is caused by my metoprolol.”
- Having one disease like Type 2 Diabetes puts you at risk for others (heart disease in this example), so your doctor follows his or her training and wants you to take that baby aspirin or statin to prevent heart disease.
- Often, people don’t self-advocate and doctors do not usually do medication reviews due to limited time, lots of “cooks in the kitchen” (meaning multiple prescribers for one patient), and new problems that need to be fixed. So if you don’t ask them, “Hey, do I really need all these meds?” no one may be looking critically at your list with this question in mind.
If you find yourself feeling helpless with this, you’re not alone. And if you’re motivated to take some control over the situation—Bravo! This takes courage!
It’s my passion and life’s purpose to help those like you become empowered and find your way to health and wellbeing, with or without medications. I want to share with you an alternative to taking medications and getting sicker from diseases that are REVERSIBLE, such as Type 2 Diabetes, essential hypertension, PCOS, gout, obesity, GERD, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
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