One of the questions I get all too often from my patients, particularly the older ones who are way too many medications, is “Will this new medicine react with the ones I’m already taking?”
I answer by telling them, “Scientifically, we know how one medicine reacts with another. When you add a third one though, everything we know goes out the window. How about if you’re already on ten or more medicines?”
Sadly, many of our parents and grandparents, are on way too many medications. And this phenomenon has already trickled down into our generation and that of our children! I routinely see college students who are on 3-4 medications: an anti-depressant (seems like these are almost as universally used as aspirin used to be), an ADHD medicine (seems pretty standard for a lot of kids these days as well), birth control for many girls and then whatever variety of meds they may be on for asthma, allergies or other medical conditions. Our bodies have literally become pharmacies and then we wonder why we get so sick!
Statistically – especially for the providers out there – the likelihood of a patient complying with a regimen of medical treatment goes down by 50% when you reach four daily medicines. That means that half of your patients (who are on at least 4 meds) will be taking medicines not at all, haphazardly or in the wrong way out of confusion, forgetfulness or carelessness.
How to solve the problem? From a patient perspective, talk to your provider if you are concerned that you are on too many medications. See if there are any combination products that can help you lower the number of medicines that you are on. Secondly, remember that not every problem requires a pill or prescription. This is especially true when it comes to medications for depression. This is a serious subject though which I hope to write a proper post on soon.
From the provider perspective, remember to do no harm. Closely examine your patient’s medication list to make sure there are no redundancies – a very common occurrence. Also, try to help your patient’s find non-pharmacological ways to deal with their problems.
A friend sent me this great video made by Cafe of Life that probably says it better than I ever could – hope you like it as much as I did. Click here to watch.