I recently read an article about the latest medication to hit the market. This medication sounded like it was going to help a lot of people. The disease that it treated was horrible, many people were dealing with it and this drug seemed to offer a good solution.
A solution in a pill sounds too good to be true. As I learned from later articles about the very same drug, the “too good to be true” label was correct. The latest articles contained studies that showed side-effects that included heart trouble and even death. You may say to yourself that the risk is low and they wouldn’t put something out that could harm people. Well, that is a big risk to take. The latest study on this drug showed these side-effects occurring in as much as 30 percent of those that it.
I’m not citing specific names of medications, but I do want to shed a little light on a problem in our society.
This article is about the risk of medication in general. This article is not to condemn those that are taking medications as I see a need for many. I simply want to make sure that before we take a medication, we ask two questions:
1. Can I prevent or reverse this condition on my own?
2. What are the risks to taking this medication?
By asking these questions, you can be sure that you are looking out for yourself. It is important to do that. It sounds like common sense, but no one else is looking out for you. If a product that is on the market and being prescribed to people right now is causing such serious problems, how can you leave it in anyone else’s hands?
After reading the article that I mentioned above, I was alarmed. I’ve actually been alarmed for a while now due to the increased frequency of use. This just made me think about it again. In today’s world it is very easy to get started down the road of medication. The average 30 year-old American is on 3 medications. The most common prescriptions in this age group are depression, acid reflux and blood pressure medications.
As a 30-year-old myself, I am shocked by this statistic. Why does someone so young need any medication, let alone 3 medications? Well, the type of medication is an indicator of our problems. Many people have legitimate medical needs, but think about the structure of our medical model:
You go to the doctor with a symptom. The doctor has been given a list of options to treat symptoms. When the doctor sees your symptom on the list, the easiest thing to do is give you the drug that matches up. It is quick, it is easy and everyone wins, right?
Not so fast. What if we looked at the cause rather than just the symptom? What if the doctor treated the cause of your problem so that it actually went away? These seem like logical questions, but this is not something you can expect in our current system.
In our current system, you get the drug that matches the list of symptoms. You get a quick visit from your doctor, maybe a referral to a specialist (where you’ll get another quick visit…and another bill) and then the medication is given.
Our role in this process is the scariest part for me. I can see how a doctor would find a medication that treated a symptom and allowed them to ease pain and discomfort with little to no effort. I can even see why that seems good to most people. Who doesn’t want to feel good?
We all want to feel good. What we don’t want to do is take the time to consider our options. What will this medication do to me? How will it affect my body and mind? These are two very important questions that often go without asking.
After seeing the studies and laundry lists of side-effects, it is shocking to me that more people don’t ask about their options. It shocks me to hear that we are taking more and more medications and spending even less time thinking about what they are doing to us.
I think it goes back to the model we are in. It’s not just how the doctor is trained. It is about the symptoms. What we are dealing with is nothing but a list of symptoms. From the diabetes to depression, we are dealing with the symptoms. These conditions are merely symptoms of our lifestyles. When we eat too much and gain weight, the body can’t process blood sugar properly and we end up with diabetes.
3 most common symptoms treated by medications in today’s 30 year-old:
When we don’t move enough and continue to do things that aren’t in line with what we want, we feel down and depressed. When we eat foods high in sodium and don’t get enough exercise, our blood pressure will be elevated. When we eat processed foods high in fat, salt and sugar and drink acidic sodas, the body will react and show digestive problems such as acid reflux.
You can go to the doctor and get treatments for these symptoms. As we’ve discussed, that is easy. The doctor will give you what you want without much question. You don’t have to ask yourself why these symptoms are occurring. You don’t have to try to find a way to improve on your own. You don’t even have to know why you are suffering from this symptom. You can live this way and everything will be fine.
At least we hope everything will be fine. What happens when it’s not fine? What do you do when a medication causes a side-effect. What if that side-effect is worse than the symptom or more difficult than simply changing your habits to avoid it all together?
This is often the case as many medications are taken to fight symptoms of lifestyle habits. In other words, we are doing harm to ourselves and taking medication to mask the symptoms of that harm.
It doesn’t have to be this way. You can ask the doctor any and all of the questions above. You can ask your doctor about the causes of the symptoms you are having. You may not even need to take medication. You may be able to make a simple change.
A simple change is what I see as the best solution to our medication problems. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. I understand why people take medications before considering a change of lifestyle. It is easier to take a pill than it is to take care of ourselves.
This is a very risky strategy. We are putting our lives in the hands of the drug companies, hoping (often just assuming) that they have our best interests in mind. I’m not here to bash the drug companies, but I am here to remind you that there are many drugs like the one I read the article about. There are many medications that cause many problems that far out-weigh the symptoms they are taken to treat.
Before you start taking any medication, stop and ask yourself if you can find a solution on your own. Ask yourself if you are the problem causing the symptom. It may not be fun to ask a question like this, but it can literally save your life. Speaking of saving your life- Before taking anything, ask yourself if it is worth the risk.
Business Health Expert Joe Byrd uses his passion and expertise to bring business and health together. He integrates health education in lifestyle topics such as Stress Management, Weight Management, and Smoking Cessation into businesses in order to accomplish the following: