Take a look in your medicine cabinet. What’s in there? A ton of old prescription bottles from various ear infections and that wisdom teeth surgery? What do you take daily or regularly? Should you actually be taking that? As a 2nd year pharmacy student I am entirely surprised that the medicine we take isn’t addressed more on health and wellness blogs and websites. Cassie and I have talked on several occasions about drugs, their impact and their overall purpose in improving our health and I’m so excited to share my Top 3 Drug Tips to Staying Healthy!
- Think before you take something. So many ailments can be “fixed” by simply popping a pill, but there may be a better and safer way to fix that problem. Here’s an example: heartburn. It is awful, uncomfortable, and NOT FUN. Most people would throw some Nexium into their grocery cart and call it a day. Hold on a minute! Lets stop and think. What could be causing the heartburn? Trigger foods for heartburn have a common place in our diets and include everything from fried food, citrus, caffeine, alcohol, and weight gain and stress. Before popping the magic purple pill, do a food diary for a week and assess if certain trigger foods are to blame. Maybe your trigger is citrus and cutting your citrus intake in half eliminates your heartburn, Now you’ve just eliminated taking a drug that can cause many other side effects that are shown below. I would certainly like to avoid those side effects if I could – wouldn’t you? Think before you take something.
- Reassess yearly. The human body is an amazing thing and goes through, as Cassie would say, “seasons of life.” In certain seasons, a medication could be absolutely necessary, effective, and safe. My biggest concern is when I see a 70-year old patient taking 25 medications because she adds a few each year to solve the most current condition. The average person should NEVER be taking 25 medications, which leads me to my second piece of advice: Reassess your medications, herbal treatments, and supplements yearly with your doctor and/or pharmacist. Talk to them about how you’ve been feeling – good or bad. Ask them if you should still be taking something even, or especially, if you’ve been taking it for years. This reassessment could be a quick 5-minute conversation with your local pharmacist or a yearly appointment with your primary physician. Either way, make it happen every year!
- Change what you know! When interviewing a patient, I often ask what medications they’re taking and they usually respond with a couple prescription medications and end there. That is not the end of it! Over-the-counter medications, vitamins, minerals, herbal supplements, etc. are all considered drugs and could all have competing pathways, compounding side effects and opposing outcomes. Even though something is over-the-counter, it may not be safe, the best option, or an appropriate dose for you! Perhaps this is my biggest piece of advice because it leads to this…ask questions! Ask your pharmacist if an herbal treatment is a good idea for you. Ask them what cold & flu regimen they recommend. The pharmacy is usually steps away from the aisles with these types of products ON PURPOSE, and pharmacists are in most grocery stores so don’t hesitate to ask.
Thanks Meagan for these great tips! What a holistic and practical approach to taking medications. Looking forward to hearing about all of your success as a pharmacist!
Your Trainer and Friend,
Cassie and Meagan