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Managing the Drugs that Are Part of Our Lives

Today’s longer, healthier lives are due in no small dose to advances in medication. An array of drugs address common conditions like high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol that, untreated, can lead to heart disease and stroke. Assorted medications treat pain. Antibiotics prevent infections. Other meds treat depression and mania. It seems that there is a drug for almost every need.

This year in the United States, where half of all Americans take at least one prescription drug and one in six takes three or more, the 50-and-older population will reach 100 million. Doctors must be prescribing the right stuff.

Or are they?

The range of medications for just one condition – the Mayo Clinic lists 18 that treat cholesterol – and the fact that pharmaceutical companies pay doctors to promote certain ones open the door to the possibility that we might not always be prescribed that which is best for us.

Then, assuming we get the proper medication, we have to remember to take it as directed. This can be overwhelming when we have multiple ailments or something that must be taken several times a day. Non-adherence is a serious problem.

And how long should we keep all those bottles that fall out of the medicine cabinet every time we open it? Their expiration dates pass but they look and smell ok. Do we really need to toss them? If so, how?

Medication helps maintain health, but it is a complicated matter that requires each patient’s attention. In the hope of helping you get this right, we examine the issues surrounding our increasing reliance on prescription drugs.

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