How much do you know about prescription drugs? Chances are, you haven’t thought too much about them. While a number of people may have chronic or long-term illnesses that call for the use of prescription drugs, most of us don’t really consider the fact that the medications we are taking can sometimes be harmful to our health. This is not to say that all medication is harmful; in moderation, many medications improve the quality and duration of life. However, some carry with them certain risks. These risks may compound when taking a prescribed medication for months or years.
Often, prescription drugs work to treat a person’s symptoms, rather than the underlying diseases that cause them. This can cause problems, in part because sometimes dealing with one symptom creates harmful side effects while not actually combating the true source of the symptoms. Sometimes there is no actual cure for a given ailment, but treating the symptoms should not be done in a vacuum; other treatments or procedures should be used to reduce any risk brought on by medication. As it stands, sometimes a medication’s side effects outnumber the issue it’s supposed to solve.
One side effect that’s not mentioned often, if at all, is an addiction. Painkillers, antidepressants, and sleep aids are often addictive, and people end up becoming dependent upon them, which can actually harm their health in the long run. To be clear, depression and other mental illnesses are serious and in such cases, sometimes medication is the best or only option. However, dependency among those who do not need medication can be problematic. Reliance upon prescription medication can often result in an overlooking of more permanent, less harmful solutions, particularly those that are related to diet or other aspects of one’s lifestyle.
As mentioned earlier, sometimes the side effects of a medication are as dangerous, if not more dangerous, than the condition they treat; it’s concerning that the things that are supposed to make us better actually have significant chances to kill us. To be fair, some of the danger lies in the misuse and overuse of medications, but shouldn’t our medications be safer in the first place? There are a number of commonly used prescription drugs with adverse effects. Be mindful of these, and the fact that any drug may end up having unintended side effects, as each person is different.
Proton Pump Inhibitors
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), which are commonly used in the treatment of GERD (acid reflux), have been associated with significant side effects; some of these are matters of relative inconvenience, such as constipation, while others are more serious, such as stomach cancer or kidney disease. However, the organs of the digestive system are not the only parts of the body put at risk by the use of prescription heartburn medications. According to WebMD, there is research indicating that PPIs may increase a person’s risk for dementia and heart attacks as well as vitamin deficiencies, which can lead to fragile bones.
When you compare such serious illnesses to heartburn, suddenly medication doesn’t seem like such a great idea. That being said, you don’t have to choose between potentially dangerous medication and just living with heartburn. In many cases, lifestyle changes can help soothe or eliminate heartburn. What and when you eat, for example, will determine the severity of heartburn. Changes in your diet will also help you lose weight, and weight loss is another factor that can help alleviate heartburn. Ultimately, if you have heartburn, you should talk to your doctor about lifestyle modifications alongside or in lieu of medication if possible.
A number of autoimmune diseases are treated with the steroid prednisone; some of these are arthritis, lupus, and ulcerative colitis. Essentially, you can think of it as a drug used to handle inflammation, which is actually a response of the body, rather than an illness on its own. Autoimmune diseases are those where the immune system mistakenly attacks the body, and treatments like prednisone suppress the immune system to limit these attacks. One of the unfortunate side effects of this is that legitimate threats to the body’s health are more likely to take hold, as the immune system response is weakened.
However, even setting aside the possibility of infections, prednisone can lead to complications. For example, water retention, weight gain, and high blood pressure are common. The latter two compound dangerously and could lead to heart disease. It is dangerous for pregnant and nursing women as well. Patients may also experience muscle problems or glaucoma. The risk is especially relevant in the case of high doses over long periods of time, so if you must take prednisone, take as small a dose as possible for as short a time as possible. Furthermore, stress, anxiety, digestive issues and mental illness can cause this medication to have negative effects.