It occurred to me recently that there are an awful lot of ads on television for prescription drugs and over-the counter medications.
It seems like every time I turn on the TV, I am subjected to a barrage of remedies, some of them for conditions I didn’t even know existed.
There are drugs to help us wake up, and other drugs to help us sleep.
There are products to curb our appetites so we will eat less, and other products to help relieve the misery when we eat too much.
It seems no matter what might be ailing us, someone has a pill they claim will cure it.
I can’t help wondering, however, if all these drugs are part of what is creating the problems in the first place.
I did some investigating to see if it’s just my imagination, or if there really are more pills floating around today.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), between 2009 and 2012, nearly 48 percent of people in the US had used at least one prescription drug in the past 30 days.
That’s almost half the population.
During the same period, nearly 22 percent of people in the US had used three or more prescription drugs in the past month.
Nearly 11 percent of the population had used five or more prescription drugs in the past 30 days.
Prescription drugs are big business.
Part of the reason people are taking so many drugs appears to be that doctors are prescribing a lot of drugs these days.
According to the CDC, 75 percent of physician office visits involve drug therapy.
The most commonly prescribed therapeutic classes are analgesics (pain relievers), antihyperlipidemic agents to reduce lipid levels in the blood, and antidepressants.
Physicians’ offices are not the only places prescribing drugs.
According to the CDC, more than 72 percent of hospital outpatient visits involved drug therapy, and more than 80 percent of hospital emergency department visits involved prescription drugs as part of the treatment.
I would never presume to offer any medical advice. My comments are purely from the perspective of an observer. It just seems that people are taking a lot more medications, and taking them for a lot more conditions, than they used to.
I suspect part of the problem is that we are addicted to quick fixes in this country.
Instead of taking responsibility and making lifestyle changes to improve our health, we’d rather pop a pill to fix our problems.
One reason this seems like a bad idea is that remarkable though our bodies are, I don’t think they were designed to accommodate all the drugs we insist on consuming.
Our bodies can heal themselves from a lot of things, but if they are busy adapting to drugs that we take to speed us up, slow us down, or cope with a host of other problems, the natural systems we have to combat illness must be in a constant state of confusion.
In addition to the intended results of these piles of pills, there are the unintended side effects.
It seems to me, in a lot of cases, the side effects are worse than whatever the medication was intended to cure in the first place.
My favorite disclaimers are the ones that have a long list of potential side effects, up to, and including death.
Manufacturers urge users to tell their doctors if they experience any side effects.
Well, if the medication caused a serious reaction or death, the patient may not be in a position to report the side effects.
Other fun side effects from some prescription drugs include hallucinations, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, muscle weakness, liver problems, high (or low) blood pressure, and many more.
Interactions between certain drugs can be even more complicated and cause additional side effects.
It seems to me we need to be careful that the medications we are using are not creating problems that are worse than the original condition.
Prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications have helped a lot of people and improved their quality of life, but we have to be smart about it.
Being informed consumers is important with drugs, as with so many other things.
Asking good questions about other, potentially safer, alternatives also makes sense.
In the scope of human history, this reliance on popping pills is a fairly recent phenomenon. We should keep in mind that some of the people who are trying to convince us we need various medications are motivated more by profit than by our best interest. It is up to us to look after our own best interest.
Some people are vigilant about what they put into their bodies. I believe these people are on the right track.