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Medications on medications

On a regular basis, patients bring me lists of the medications they are taking. It's not uncommon for me to see people who are taking ten or more medications.  Some people even have them laminated, like it’s a badge of honor.

One person brought me a list of seventeen medications she was taking. Seventeen! How is that even possible? 

Let’s back up and ask how this happened. Do you think she showed up to her doctor’s office one day and the doctor said, “Well, Mrs. Smith, you don’t look so good. Here are seventeen medications for you start taking today.”?

I doubt it. The more likely scenario is that she went in for a routine checkup many years ago, and her doctor found high blood pressure, so she was prescribed a blood pressure medication. The medication brought her blood pressure down to a normal level, so the problem is fixed, right? But that’s only the beginning.

A year later she gets some blood work done showing elevated cholesterol, so she is prescribed a statin drug for that. Then she starts having acid indigestion, so she gets another medication for that. Then she developes anxiety, so another medication is added to the list. Now she can't sleep, so we add another.  

Meanwhile, do you think her health is improving or getting worse? It’s getting worse! Once again, please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here. The doctors are not bad people; they’re simply doing what they are trained to do.

But if her health is worsening instead of improving, why do we keep piling more medications on top of more medications thinking that will fix the problem?

We have a real pharmaceutical epidemic in our country. Until we shift our focus from treating DISEASE to improving HEALTH, I don't see this problem going away. 

But where does health come from? Does it come in a pill bottle or a syringe?  Stay tuned for more. 

 

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