Friday, May 30, 2008

Get Educated on the Medications You Take

Isn’t it easy to take a pill for what ails you? Instant relief can be just one tablet or capsule away. How wonderful is that? Maybe, not a great as you think. You need to educate yourself on what those medications actually do to your body. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has reported that adverse drug effects and deaths related to them have more than doubled in the last 10 years. By adverse effects, it means anything from birth defects to disability, hospitalization or the need for other life-saving intervention.
The report states that “people 65 and older account for 12.6% of the total U.S. population” and “accounted for 33.6% of the reported adverse drug effects.” The list of potentially hazardous drugs is extensive. It includes the narcotic pain relievers Oxycodone and Morphine, the duragesic Fentanyl and the anti-psychotic medications Clozapine and Resperidone. Even Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is on the list. To see the complete list, see the article on the Aging With Creativity web site.
You also need to know how the drugs you take interact with each other. If you take six or more medications a day, you have an 80 percent chance of a drug-related health problem. This includes both prescription and non-prescription medications. Mixing drugs can have many outcomes, from making a particular drug less effective to causing a serious health issue. For example, some anti-depressants interfere with blood pressure-lowering medications. You will find a link to a list of the top 10 drug interactions on the Aging With Creativity site.
Also be careful about what natural herbs and vitamins you take along with your medications. Ginseng can increase blood pressure. When taken with Coumadin, a blood-thinner, it can cause bleeding episodes.
Whenever your doctor recommends a new medication for you, make sure you discuss how it will interact with what you’re already taking. You can also talk with your pharmacist. As well, read all labels on any medications you purchase and any of the accompanying material provided by your pharmacy. Be aware of what side effects may result from taking any medication. It is up to you to decide if the risks are worth the benefits.

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