15 Questions to Ask When Your Doctor Prescribes a Drug
As you probably know by now, I am a huge proponent of becoming an active participant in your healthcare. This can begin with asking the following questions when your doctor recommends a drug:
WHAT DOES THIS MEDICATION DO?
HOW, WHEN AND FOR HOW LONG SHOULD I TAKE IT?
IS THIS DRUG INTENDED TO CURE MY UNDERLYING CONDITION OR IS IT INTENDED TO GIVE ME RELIEF FROM MY SYMPTOMS?
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS? ARE THEY MINOR OR MAJOR? COMMON OR RARE?
IS IT SAFE TAKE WHILE PREGNANT OR BREASTFEEDING? (IF APPROPRIATE TO YOU.)
HAVE LONG-TERM STUDIES BEEN DONE ON THIS DRUG? HAVE STUDIES BEEN DONE FOR THIS DRUG ON THE ELDERLY OR WOMEN? (IF APPROPRIATE TO YOU.) ASK THIS ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE GOING TO TAKE THE DRUG LONG-TERM.
DO THE BENEFITS OUTWEIGH THE RISKS?
IS THIS DOSAGE INDIVIDUALIZED FOR ME, OR IS THIS A ONE-DOSE-FITS-ALL DOSAGE?
WOULD IT BE POSSIBLE TO START ME AT A LOWER DOSE AND ADJUST IT ACCORDING TO MY RESPONSE?
WHAT HERBS, SUPPLEMENTS, FOODS, DRINKS, OR ACTIVITIES SHOULD I AVOID WHILE TAKING THIS MEDICATION?
IS IT SAFE FOR ME TO TAKE THIS MEDICATION WITH OTHER DRUGS OR SUPPLEMENTS I AM TAKING?
WILL ANY TESTS BE NECESSARY WHILE I AM TAKING THIS MEDICATION?
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I MISS A DOSE OF THIS MEDICATION? TAKE IT IMMEDIATELY WHEN I REMEMBER, OR WAIT UNTIL MY NEXT REGULARLY SCHEDULED DOSE?
IS THERE A GENERIC VERSION OF THE MEDICATION?
WHAT ARE MY NON-DRUG ALTERNATIVES?
Health and Wellness Associates
Dr Anne Sullivan
The Seven Most Dangerous Prescriptions You Can Take
A damning Harvard University report has advised that according to the European Commission, about 328,000 patients in the U.S. and Europe die from prescription drugs each year – making prescription drugs the 4th highest cause of death, on a par with stroke.
We could get into legal trouble if we advised you to go against the recommendations of your doctor; however, we can advise you to be as informed as possible about the risks involved in taking prescription meds.
According to the World Health Organization, the pharmaceutical industry is worth 300 billion dollars annually – with an additional hundred million expected to add to the value in the next three years. A third of this entire multi-billion-dollar market is controlled by ten of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. According to CMR International, a partner of Thomas Reuters, global pharmaceutical sales reached one trillion dollars in 2014 and will be booming to 1.3 trillion by 2018.
It goes without saying that this is big business – but like every big business, there is a dark side as well. Can we really trust the research – seeing as the same companies selling the pills are funding many of the medical journals and medical schools? And then we have the issue of doctors receiving kickbacks for prescribing certain drugs, after being “educated” on the benefits of the drugs by pharma salesmen.
Remember that doctors do not get paid from your insurance company unless they write a prescription or a procedure, or a follow up with another doctor.
Take a look at this list of seven of the most dangerous prescription drug types and see how they can hurt you.
#1: Sleeping Pills (OTC and prescribed)
The use of sleeping pills has been associated with an increased risk factor for stroke. A study published by Petrov, et. al. in 2014 revealed that over-the-counter and prescription sleeping pills increased a person’s risk for stroke, independently and beyond any of the other known risk factors like blood pressure, personal history of heart disease, and vices like smoking and drinking alcohol. Isn’t it worrying that compared to all other factors that place a person at risk for stroke, sleeping pills top that list?
This includes any medications that make you drowsy i.e. Benadryl, Night time Nyquil, Tylenol Pm, Valerian, and such.
#2: Cholesterol Drugs (Statins)
Did you know that deaths attributed to heart failure more than doubled from 1989 to 1997, while statins were first given pre-market approval in 1987? This is an alarming “coincidence” – to say the least. Interference with production of Co-Q10 by statin drugs has been proposed as the most likely explanation.
Drugs that are meant to control your cholesterol levels may also be damaging your liver. Hepatotoxicity is not completely absent among people who undergo statin therapy, but it is uncommon. However, several studies have discovered that statins cause severe liver damage, especially in in dosages higher than 50 milligrams per day – a scary thing to realize when statin dosages can climb up to 80 milligrams per day when a person has high or uncontrollable cholesterol levels. Atorvastatin, Simvastatin, Fluvastatin, Lovastatin, and Pravastatin have all been linked to liver injury.
#3: Blood Pressure Drugs (Beta-blockers, Calcium channel blockers)
Among the different drugs prescribed to manage hypertension, calcium channel blockers have been found to be the most common ones linked to adverse drugs reactions (ADRs). The most common ones linked to CCBs are bipedal edema, chest pain, hypersensitivity, and difficulty of breathing. A recent study published in 2014 discovered that immediate-release CCB use was positively associated with an increased risk for breast cancer. On the other hand, beta-blockers have been associated with several adverse side effects, such as increased incidence of post-operative dysrhythmia, troponin elevation, and heart failure, risk for hepatic failure, and small-for-gestational age births.
#4: Alzheimer’s Drugs
While the positive effects of psychotropic drugs have been well-documented, there have also been studies revealed their adverse effects. A study conducted on the pharmacological treatment of Alzheimer’s disease found that antipsychotics increased a person’s risk for developing diabetes mellitus, heart disease, and stroke, and even overall mortality. The most popular drug prescribed for Alzheimer’s is Aricept or Donezepil and has been linked to nausea, diarrhea, malaise, dizziness, and insomnia.
#5: Arthritis Drugs (NSAIDs)
It is so easy to be prescribed a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug for pain, and even easier to purchase one from the pharmacy. What most people fail to realize is that NSAIDs are one of the leading causes of drug-related morbidity, especially in elderly and immunocompromised people. They have been directly linked to gastrointestinal problems, destroying the inner lining of the stomach and increasing the risk for ulceration and internal bleeding. Renal effects have also been linked to NSAID use, causing fluid and sodium retention and hypertension (and eventual cardiovascular problems). In worse case scenarios, people with severe kidney problems might even require dialysis. This seemingly innocuous drug is one of if not the most dangerous ones on this list.
#6: Diabetes Drugs (Actos, Avanida, Byetta, Metformin)
Another class of drugs to watch out for are those prescribed to manage high blood sugar, a characteristic symptom of diabetes. Liver damage has been linked to metformin use. In a study focusing on different ADRs, metformin-induced hepatitis was seen in a case of a person taking 500 milligrams of Metformin three times a day and insulin glargine. Liver damage can manifest as jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes) and discoloration of the urine and stool. Further liver damage can cause uncontrollable bleeding and insufficient clearing of toxins from the blood.
#7: Chemotherapy (Tamoxifen)
The one category of drug on the list that is universally regarded as harmful to a person’s health is chemotherapeutic drugs. When people diagnosed with cancer are advised to undergo chemotherapy, they are prepped for the side effects they will undoubtedly experience along with it. Chemotherapeutic drugs are strong enough to kill rapidly proliferating cancer cells – however there is collateral damage: Healthy cells are also killed and it’s the oft-repeated hope with chemotherapy that it “kills the cancer and doesn’t kill you”. Weakness, hair loss, and appetite loss, are the mildest of these side effects, with more serious ones involving blood in the urine or stool, high-grade fever, severe pain over the chemotherapy infusion site, vomiting and diarrhea, and difficulty breathing. Chemotherapy is known to kill a significant number of cancer patients.
Try to do everything you can not to start any of these medications. Once you have taken them for a while, your body gets lazy and does not want to work, and lets the pill do all the work. Then you are on them for life.
Call us if you need help getting off medications, or hopefully never getting on any medications.
Health and Wellness Associates