I’ve got a drug problem

I have always been pro drugs. The medicinal kind, that is. Have the flu? Pop some antibiotics. Headache? Head for the Tylenol. Can’t sleep. Yay for Lunesta. Wisdom teeth removed? Vicodin, here I come. After I had major surgery years ago, Percocet was my best friend.

Now I’m not so sure. Every drug is packed with a laundry list of warnings. And we’re  reading more and more about new studies uncovering the perils of this drug and that. The latest culprit is Prempro, the HRT drug that reportedly increases a woman’s risk of developing advanced breast cancer if she takes it after menopause. It’s the old double-edge sword. A miracle drug cures problem A but causes problem B and C, which are sometimes far more serious that the initial problem.

If you take biphosphonates for osteoporosis, beware of serious problems that could crop up with your jaw. If you take sleeping pills, you could have temporary memory loss. Take an anti-depressant and chance having suicidal thoughts (now that’s a oxymoron, if ever there was one.)

I guess we have to take it one drug at a time and decide whether the “rewards” outweigh the risks, even if the answers aren’t so easy when you’re confronting a big health issue. We’ve also got to trust our doctors to help us make decisions. If you’re uncertain whether you do, find another doctor.

One Response to “I’ve got a drug problem”

  1. Toby Wollin says:

    The other thing is that as we get older, especially if we have multiple doctors (OBGYN for ‘the plumbing’, cardiologist for something else, dermatologist for something else), we tend to collect this amazing buffet of Rx’s. And many times, the cocktail of all of those pills sometimes can make some of them ineffective (don’t take your statin at the same time as you are taking thyroid – trust me, I know about this one), or can actually be dangerous. So, my advice is this; take a 3×5 card and put down on it every single one of the drugs you are taking and every single one of the supplements you are taking (don’t get embarassed that the Emergency Room folks will give you a bad time for taking Red Yeast Rice..) and what dosages. That way, the next time you go see whatever doctor you go see for whatever you go see that person FOR, you can whip that baby out, shovel it under the doctor’s nose and say, “Is this list OK? Is this combination going to hurt me in any way or interfere with the individual drugs? Do I have to change any way that I take them?” I don’t know about you but I can never remember all the pills I take so I have that card and keep it in my wallet. At the same time, if something ever happens to you when you are NOT at home, it’s another piece of info to give the ER folks when you are not in any condition to answer questions that actually require major thought other than ‘it hurts – here – and make it stop, please.”

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