As wonderful as it is to live in a society with a continually increasing life expectancy, there is one unfortunate problem: At some point or another, most of us are going to become sick. It is estimated that there are over 4.25 million people over the age of 85 living in the United States. A large percentage of these people are suffering from a disability. Diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disorders and kidney disease are all common among senior citizens. According to data gathered by the PRIME Institute for Families USA in 2010, senior citizens in America were taking an average of 38 different prescription medications per day. While these medications are truly a lifesaver for many people, it is important to recognize the dangers as well.
The Dangers of Prescription Drugs
The world of pharmaceuticals is constantly growing and changing, with news coming out practically every day about the newest wonder drug or the latest medicinal catastrophe. Most of us have heard about the Vioxx, Coumadin and Pradaxa lawsuit filings, since all of these have been in the headlines recently. Pradaxa, an anti-coagulant drug designed to prevent blood clots and strokes, was blamed for over 3,700 severe or fatal reactions in the year 2011 alone, which, according to the Institute for Safe Medical Practices, places it at the top of the list of the most dangerous drugs in the United States.
Viewing such reports may scare you away from taking medications at all, but in truth, neither extreme is a good thing. The aim should be to reduce the amount of medication needed by implementing positive lifestyle changes and lower the risk of a dangerous reaction by educating yourself on the potential dangers of taking too much, taking the wrong combination, taking the medications at the wrong time of day or with the wrong kind of food, or forgetting to take them at all.
Preventing Medication Mishaps
The best way to ensure safety is by performing your own research, as well as creating an open dialogue with your doctor and pharmacist. If your doctor suggests a particular medication, take the time to research whether or not a safer option may be available. If you do decide to go with that medication, be sure to talk to your doctor about which side effects are to be expected and which ones can be dangerous.
It is equally important that your doctor be aware of everything you take, including supplements and herbal treatments. Tell him or her about any allergic reactions you may have experienced as well. Sometimes medicines masquerade under different names and you may be prescribed something you are allergic to without even knowing it. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call your doctor or pharmacist. Staying up to date on the latest information by reading medical journals or health magazines is helpful as well.
A Healthy Balance
Despite the possible negatives, it is safe to say that overall, medications have vastly improved our way of life. When used correctly and coupled with positive lifestyle changes, they can reduce pain, put an end to illness, increase our sense of well-being and even extend our lives. There is no reason to fear pharmaceuticals, just be sure to talk to your doctor, ask questions, and then relax and enjoy the benefits of modern medicine.
Shelby Warden is a legal researcher and contributes articles for the personal injury firm of Doyle Raizner LLP. The firm has extensive experience with pharmaceutical drug claims and can help you file a Pradaxa lawsuit if you or a loved one has suffered an injury related to the drug. Since January 2012, over 4000 reports of dangerous complications stemming from Pradaxa have been reported.