What do you do when you are not feeling well? Do you take some rest and go for natural diet? Or do you opt for taking medications using pill reminder app? For most of us, medications are likely to be the first choice because our busy lifestyles have made us look for quick solutions to cure ailments, and this often comes in the form medicines. But is it true that we are overly reliant on pills? And if so, is it doing us any good?
A 2010 survey revealed that between 1999 and 2009, the number of people taking prescriptions in the US increased from 2.8 billion to 3.9 billion – 39% rise.
Also, a CDC survey in 2014 revealed that around 48% of US citizens took at least one medication in the past 30 days. While in the same period, the amount of people who took two or medications was 31%.
And for over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, the amount of people using these drugs was recorded around 81% by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association.
Studies like these show that we are over reliant on medication. But why is this the case? Let’s take a look at some explanations that will help us answer this question.
Taking Medications is The Easiest Option
Its true that heart diseases are one of the major causes of death in the US. Around 600,000 people die of it every year. Because of this, medicines associated with the treatment of heart-related disorders have become the most commonly prescribed the US. Besides, CDC states that the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs – the major part of preventing heart diseases – is now at the highest ever rate in the United States.
Another effective way of lowering cholesterol is making certain lifestyle changes such as increasing physical activity, taking healthy diet, avoiding tobacco smoke, etc. Doing this will not only lower cholesterol but also reduce other risk factors for heart diseases.
For example, BMJ published a study in 2013 which stated that exercise was more effective than medicines for treating stroke as well as preventing heart diseases. So, despite all these surveys, why do we still turn to medication instead?
The answer is simple: taking pills is easier for patients than losing weight, increasing physical activity, and making changes to their regular lifestyles.
Indeed, these are tough decisions to make.
While taking medications using medication reminder app may seem the easier option, it comes with risks.
Pain-relieving drugs are also among the common prescription medications in the US, and their long-term use often leads to major health problems.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), over 15,500 people died in the US in 2009 by overdosing on these medications.
The problem with pain-relieving drugs is that they are addictive in nature. They create a sense of pleasure and can affect certain brain parts, leaving people dependent to intensify their experience.
In 2013, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported that there were over 15,500 deaths in the country in 2009 because of opioid overdose – a 300% increase over the past 20 years.
Unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions are also a major cause of drug-resistant bacteria – a type of bacteria that has developed resistance to medications that previously killed it.
In fact, the US has unnecessarily high rates of antibiotic prescriptions for a minor ailment like sore throat. Due to this, over two million people in the country become infected with these bacteria, and over 23,000 deaths occur each year.
The Side Effects of Long-Term Medication Use
As mentioned above, more than 30% of US residents have used two or more medications over the past 30 days. Furthermore, more than 10% have used five or more medications and many of us have also used OTC drugs during this period. But is using so many medications really safe for our health?
Many healthcare specialists state that taking multiple medications can be extremely dangerous, particularly if the patient is taking them from different specialists who have no communication between them.
A patient can catch a negative effect and think it’s a sign of his worsening medical condition, when in fact it’s a side effect of taking multiple medicines at the same time. When you use like 10 drugs in combination, you should really stop for a while and think whether it is good for your health or not.
Also, taking prescription drugs for longer periods may damage your health. For example, Aspirin – blood thinning drug – is available as both prescription and OTC drug and is known for reducing the risk of heart attack. But some studies show that using aspirin long-term may result in various health problems.
Are Doctors Overprescribing Medications?
The use of prescription drugs in the US is now higher than ever. And some healthcare specialists believe that this may be due to overprescribing by doctors.
Of course, the aging population is also an important factor as older people are more prone to catching infections than adults.
Some specialists believe that doctors prescribe drugs without even sitting with patients. They don’t talk with patients about other treatment options and simply prescribe them medications due to which many patients have started believing that taking medications is a secure way of treatment, which in fact is not.
Is There A Way to Avoid Taking Medications?
While there are many ways of treating minor ailments without taking medicines, those suffering from serious illnesses will require medication along with a pill tracker app to remind them of every dose.
For such patients, it’s important to know that they are receiving the right treatment.
They can do this by thoroughly researching their condition, seeking advice from their doctor about all treatment options and then choosing the right one.
Do not be careless when choosing a treatment option or you may end up suffering from serious health damage.