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Are Your Medications Really Right for You?

Pills-WebWhen was the last time that your doctor reviewed your medications with you? It is very easy to get in the habit of taking medications for years without questioning their necessity. There are a variety of medical problems which require medications; however, not all of these problems require medications for one's entire life. In fact, there are very few problems which can not tolerate an attempt at medication reduction.


All medications have the potential to cause side effects. It is important that people be aware of the possible side effects from the medications they take. Ask your doctor to review your medications. Feel free to ask about the possible side effects of your medications. Also feel free to question why you are taking the medication and whether you need to be on it forever. Your doctor may inform you that some of your medications may not be absolutely necessary; however, it might be possible to reduce or even discontinue some of your medications.

One of the most common examples is the use of medications for high blood pressure. First, there are a variety of other non-medication approaches to the management of high blood pressure. These include diet, such as a low salt diet or a weight loss diet. Other approaches include exercise and stress reduction. Furthermore, if one's blood pressure has been normal for some time, reduction in medication may continue to yield a normal blood pressure.

PharmacistAnother example of an area where medication use might be reduced is in the treatment of gout. While one should consult with their physician regarding this issue, some patients are placed on medications for gout based on a single episode. They may not be at risk for frequent bouts of gout and may consider a reduction in certain medications. Once again, this decision must be made in consultation with ones physician and should be monitored.

While most people think that any “heart medication” that they may be on can never be stopped, this is not always the case. There are a variety of “heart medications." One common example is a medication called digoxin, which goes in and out of favor for certain diagnoses every several years. Digoxin may be used for people who develop a rapid irregular heart beat during an acute illness. Whether the medication needs to be continued for the long term needs to be discussed with one's physician, but should not just be taken for granted.

This list of medications is endless, and these are but a few examples. So what should one do? First, feel comfortable asking your physician to review all of your medications as well as the reasons you are on them. You should then ask whether they are absolutely necessary, and what would happen if they were reduced or even discontinued. You may be surprised to find out that you do not need to take all of the medications you are presently taking. Do not reduce or stop medications without speaking to your physician. And remember, if medications are reduced or stopped, you will probably require some follow-up with your physician to assure that you are doing well with the change. Good luck!

 

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