Dangerous Drugs - The Over Medication of America (Part 2 of 3)
Are you taking drugs? In my last article, I tried to shine a light on some of the side effects of modern prescription medications and a few medically sound alternatives. Now I'm going to tell you about three more conditions millions of people are dealing with; chronic pain, hypertension and heartburn.
I must warn you though, if you have no intention of making any healthy changes in your life, don't bother reading any further because it's only going to stress you out.
Many people in chronic pain take the popular drug Oxycontin. It's prescribed for long-term use, even though there are few studies documenting the drug's effectiveness over the long term and its use in some patients is still controversial.
Because Oxycontin is designed to be absorbed in your body slowly over 12 hours, there are warnings against taking any tablets that are "broken, crushed, dissolved, or chewed..." The warnings go on to say, "...the entire 12-hour dose will be absorbed into your body all at once. This can be dangerous, causing an overdose, and possibly death." That's scary, but there are alternatives depending on the type of chronic pain you're experiencing.
In the past, if you had back pain, you were usually told by a doctor to stay in bed. Now researchers prescribe the opposite. In two randomized trials, vigorous exercise combined with cognitive treatment was just as good as spinal fusion surgery, with fewer complications. Furthermore, strength training, aerobic exercise and stretching can prevent muscles from withering, reduce disability and even reduce pain intensity by 10 - 50%. In a recent study published in the Spine Journal, half the patients on narcotics were able to stop taking them after only six weeks of exercise therapy.
If you've been diagnosed with hypertension, you might be taking Norvasc, a drug that in several studies has been shown to reduce blood pressure by an average of 12 points. That's a significant reduction, but surprisingly close to the 11.5 point reduction people on a high potassium, low-sodium diet were able to achieve. People who went on to make minimal lifestyle changes once their hypertension was under control were able to maintain the normal blood pressure.
Making dietary changes can be difficult at first. Still, the alternative is spending $500 a year to stay on Norvasc while dealing with potential side effects like edema, dizziness, flushing and palpitations.
Do you suffer from heartburn? Nexium or Prevacid are proton pump inhibitors that work by suppressing stomach acid, a job they're incredibly effective at. Unfortunately, stomach acid is also a defense against bacteria.
Researcher Robert J.F. Laheij and his colleagues reported in the October 27th, 2004 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association that people taking proton pump inhibitors had a 90% higher risk of getting pneumonia than a control group not taking the drugs. The study was extensive, comparing the medical records of more than 350,000 patients.
The higher the dose of proton pump inhibitors, the greater the pneumonia risk.
Lifestyle changes, although not a cure, can reduce the symptoms of acid reflux. Obese patients are up to six times as likely as trim patients to report chronic heartburn. Smoking and heavy drinking may also play a role. Even such simple things like swallowing medications properly, cutting out peppermint or spearmint flavored foods and decreasing pressure on your stomach can significantly reduce the occurrences of acid reflux.
In the third and final part of this series, I'm going to give you some insights into drugs for insomnia, osteoporosis and tell you the eight questions you should ask your doctor before starting a new medication.
CAUTION: DO NOT stop, start or modify any drug program you may currently be on without consulting with your doctor or health care provider FIRST. This information is presented for informational and educational purposes only and should NOT be used to diagnose, treat or manage any disease or condition.
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