Monday, April 24, 2006

Head for pills

…Americans, we love our pills. All those little bottles. So pretty.

…In January of 2005, USA Today Weekend posed a little quiz about pills and pharmacy.

…Don’t depend on your doctor to have a record of your current prescriptions. That young woman who writes things down in “the little room” could make a mistake. That is why they ask everytime. Better to keep your own list with you—or bring the bottles when you go.

…Most doctors aren’t too confident about helping you taper off drugs. Ask doctors specifically if your current meds are necessary.

…The medicine cabinet, despite the name, is the worst place to keep medicine—it’s humid and hot in there. Try a kitchen cabinet or dresser drawer.

…If you have kids or grandkids, make sure the bottles are childproof (tho in HA’s experience, strong little kid fingers are best for opening those childproof ones).

…Do not flush drugs down the toilet—some reservoirs have detectable hormones from discarded birth control pills.

…If you start to weird out, it may not be “Old Timers Disease,” as Tony Soprano puts it. It could be all your meds fighting in there. Check out the website to the right on how your pills may be interacting. If you can remember to, that is.

…Don’t assume drugs are tested on people like you. Older people and kids usually are not part of testing protocols. Women of childbearing age, by law, were not allowed to be in tests until 1972.

…Women react to many drugs differently than men do. The FDA withdrew 10 drugs since 1997-- four clearly affected women more: Posicor, Seldane, Hismanal, and Propulsid. A bunch of these drugs were found to be toxic. Researchers came to see that the cases of side effects they were seeing were largely in women, even though ten times as many men were taking the substances.

…If you believe an herbal or supplement is helping, you must believe it is doing something. That something could be bad, such as making blood thinner (gingko) or increasing susceptibility to estrogen (saw palmetto). If you are on a statin such as Lipitor, some kinds of antibiotics can be a no-no. Speak up!

…People who take a lot of drugs have more of a chance of getting a bad interaction. Patients who take six a day have an 80% chance of something fighting with something else.

…Women take an average of 4.8 ‘scripts, men 3.3. By age 65, people may take as many as 10 prescriptions and by 75, that total could rise to 13.

…Start quesioning them now!

…Several years ago, HA faithfully stuffed a pill in her mouth for months as she got sicker and sicker.


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