According to the Mayo Clinic and Olmsted Medical Center, 70 percent of Americans take at least one prescription drug, and more than half of these people take two. The most commonly prescribed are antidepressants, antibiotics and painkillers.
Over the last 10 years, prescription drug use in the United States has steadily increased. According to researchers, this trend is not expected to slow down anytime soon as drug companies continue to hammer out new and “exciting” treatments for any number of conditions. The increase in use raises concerns over many things including prescription practices, drug expenditures and the impact that taking so many drugs has on long-term physical and mental health.
One area of great concern involves the number of side-effects that so many drugs have. If you’re taking prescription medications, then you may want to listen up. The Archives of Internal Medicine recently published a report stating that the average prescription drug contains 70 side-effects, with some posing as many as 525 possible reactions. Yet manufacturers are attempting to keep users’ worries at bay by claiming these medications are safe and the reactions only need to be listed in an effort to avoid possible lawsuits.
If these medications, which can contain an upwards of hundreds of potential reactions, are so safe, how is it that each year 700,000 people visit the emergency room due to medication side-effects? While it’s true that some of these reactions may not be life-threatening, they are serious for the 100,000-plus individuals who lose their lives to them each year, making prescription medication reactions the fourth leading cause of death in the country.
The FDA, the very group charged with keeping Americans safe, has actually discouraged the use of what they call “over warning” consumers about their medication’s side-effects. According to Dr. Jon Duke, assistant professor of medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine, the FDA is taking measures to cut back on the number of side-effects listed for each prescription because it is too overwhelming for doctors to decide what is safe for their patients. If a medication comes with a possible 500 or more side-effects, how safe can it be?
It may not even be as much of an issue if the average American were only taking one medication. However, the average American ages 19 through 64 takes 11 prescribed medications while the average senior citizen is prescribed 31 medications each year. Even children as young as 3 years old are being prescribed drugs these days. When you combine the possible risk factors for each medication and the potential for drug interactions and addictions, it’s a wonder doctors even write so many prescriptions at all.
The bottom line is that doctors are quick to prescribe multiple medications these days and in many cases you can probably find natural alternatives. Before you pop your next pill, there are a few things you’ll want to ask yourself and your health care practitioner.
- Is my condition so bad that I need a prescription medication?
- What are the listed side effects for my medication and am I at risk for suffering a reaction?
- Are there natural alternatives to treat my condition?
Doctors don’t always know the whole story behind the drugs they prescribe, so always do your research. Be aware of everything that you put into your body and know ahead of time the possible consequences of doing so.
Always take preventative steps with your health so that you may be able to avoid needing to take medications. Consume a diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables, avoid processed foods at all costs, get plenty of exercise, and manage your stress. Although these things are not an absolute guarantee that you won’t need a prescription at some point, they go a long way towards building up your immunity and the overall strength of your body to keep illness and disease at bay.