Medication Tips: Be Smart, Be Safe

We are all a little more health conscious these days than the generation that went before. There is one main reason for this – we know more about health, diet, fitness, and illness.

This sounds like a good thing, and to a large degree it is. As recently as the middle of the last century it was not unheard of to see doctors advertising cigarettes. Around that time, the first reports on the health risks of smoking emerged, and those ads disappeared. But it goes to show that the more medical knowledge we have, the better.

So what’s the problem? There isn’t one as long as we know how to manage this knowledge and the benefits that it brings. Unfortunately, we don’t always know that as well as we might. And while in the case of many health conditions the soundest route of treatment is to medicate, sometimes we need to be more careful with that.

Do You Need Pharmaceutical Treatment?

Medical and pharmaceutical science are, in the main, of massive benefit to us all. As long as we accept their limitations, they can make a huge positive impact on our lives and health. The key thing to remember is that we shouldn’t see them the same way we see other forms of science.

For example, a well-designed vacuum cleaner will lift dirt and detritus off just about every carpet. It’s a “one size fits all” solution. Medication, however, is very different. Two people with similar symptoms can take the same medication. For one, it will cause those symptoms to disappear or be significantly lessened. For the other, it may do nothing at all, or even make them worse.

In other cases, an illness or symptom may just not be something that improves by being medicated. But because the science exists to medicate away some problems, we may seek to self-medicate. We may exaggerate our symptoms so as to get medication. Be honest with yourself and your doctor before seeking medication. Once on any medication, be honest about how it affects you.

What’s The Problem With Taking Medication?

Because medications exist, there will always be some people who think they are the solution to an illness or symptom. However, this ignores a few key facts.

  • As noted above, a given medication can affect two people in different ways.
  • Few medications can be so precise in their effects that they just target the symptom.
  • To effectively reduce or negate the symptom, they affect other bodily processes. We call this “side effects”.
  • So a medication you take to control headaches, or anxiety symptoms, may, for example, cause drowsiness. A pill you take to combat depression may send your stomach muscles contracting at a furious rate.
  • Some conditions can never be fully mitigated by medication anyway. For example, some pain conditions include “breakthrough pain“. This refers to spikes of pain that medication cannot control.
  • Some people seek out antibiotics at every turn, even to treat colds. This is idiocy. The medication will not reduce the cold. Not only that, but the more antibiotics are unnecessarily used, the greater the chance of antibiotic resistance (which is very bad news).

For any medication that you are prescribed, note that it may take a few weeks to start working. If, after three weeks of taking it, you are seeing no improvement, consult with your doctor. It may be that another medication will be the one that works for you.

Now, none of this should be seen as advice against taking medication. In many – probably most – cases of prolonged or chronic illness such as diabetes, medication will form part of the treatment. Medication should form part of most treatment profiles. In some cases, it will be the entire treatment. However, most medications will hopefully be discontinued after a period of time.


At What Point Should I Stop Medicating?

How you handle medication will depend upon a number of factors. First of all, have you been self-medicating? If you have pain issues and have been dealing with them using over-the-counter painkillers, stop at the right time. This will be when the pain has reduced to a bearable level. If pain continues for a prolonged spell, go to see a doctor. You should not self-medicate beyond a period of ten days.

Medication that has been prescribed by a doctor should only ever be stopped in agreement with a doctor. If, after a spell of treatment, you feel fine, then that’s great news! However, speak to your doctor about discontinuing the medicine. Just stopping point blank could be highly dangerous.

In every sense, you should think of pharmaceutical medication as something to respect. Respect, and appreciate, its awesome power to make symptoms less damaging to you. At the same time, respect and be wary of the fact that medication incorrectly used can cause as many problems as it will ever cure.

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Sarah Ruhlman is the founder and editor of Sarah Sarah is a lifestyle blogger, online influencer and television personality. Email to connect and work together.
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