Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Please, Check Your Meds!

Resized image of Ritalin-SR-20mg-full.png; squ...Image via Wikipedia

As a patient dealing with chronic illness, I regularly visit a number of doctors, each of whom prescribes for me a variety of pharmaceutical concoctions. Along with my primary neurologist, I see a primary care physician, a urologist, a neuro ophthalmologist, an endocrinologist, and a pain management specialist. Each of these MDs makes good use of their prescription pads, and subsequently I have enough pharmaceuticals in my bathroom to open my own apothecary.

I'm sure this delights the hell out of the big pharmaceutical companies, who rival insurance companies and the New York Yankees on my list of most detested entities on Earth (one of these days, I'll post a long and barely coherent rant about Big Pharma and its rancid influence on the healing professions), but it's left me with literally handfuls of pills to take each day.

As I'm chugging down these little vessels of wonderfulness, in their dizzying array of different shapes, sizes, and colors, I often wonder if they might be doing me more harm than good. I mean, here I am, in possession of a finely balanced symphony of physiology, a body that has taken millions of years of evolution to develop, and I'm two or three times daily ingesting substances that profoundly manipulate the workings of many of its systems. Of course, in my case, evolution as provided me with a body that probably should have been recalled, but that's besides the point. A little research into many pharmaceuticals reveals that their mechanisms of action are poorly understood, other than the fact that they appear to work. Kind of like magic; here's a quarter, now it's gone, except it's not really gone, now is it?

On their own, each of the pills we take may be beneficial, or at least not harmful, but when taken in addition to other medications, serious consequences can result. Drug interactions are a significant cause of death in this country, and as responsible patients we shouldn't rely on our doctors to keep track of each and every prescription that has been given to us.

There is a terrific website, provided by drugs.com, which allows you to enter the names of all of the prescription medications you're taking, and then alerts you to any possible problems with drug interactions. The site even allows you to save your list of drugs, so you can add to it the next time you're given a prescription. I urge everybody reading this post to please, please visit this website and check your medications. I did so yesterday, and was alerted to a possibly severe interaction between two of the drugs I'm currently taking.

So, if not for yourself, do it for the Wheelchair Kamikaze. I can't afford to lose any readers. Click this link and check all of your medications.

Really, do it now.

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13 comments:

  1. My neuro won some of my confidence when he took me off ADs (Took for MS hopes, not for clinical depression, though do have some situational depression) because he prescriped 4-AP and it and AD can both cause seizures (what a dangerous life we lead!). Quit the 4-AP (birde Poison as I "lovingly" called it), not going back on ADs - neither gave positive effects or helped in any perceivable way. My neuro (which is why I like hime knows nobody knows as well as me in this self monitoring) Not sure where to go next... LDN?

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  2. That Anon. was kicker

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  3. Great advice. I'd also add that if you use a combination of "western" and "eastern" concoctions as I do, make sure your eastern prescriber is clear on what you are taking to make sure there are no interactions with the herbs. I had to put this responsibility on my DAOM as my Neuro wasn't as educated in the herbs as the other way around; though he did support the use of these approaches.

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  4. Hi Marc,

    Good advice, I only have Baclofen and THC in a vaporizer.


    Love,
    'Herrad

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  5. Thanks Marc for the OBVIOUS heads up! My list showed only mild to moderate interactions to watch for - but gave more information than the drug information sheets I get at the pharmacy.

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  6. Great information, Marc. Thanks!

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  7. thanks, good info

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  8. Great advice Marc. I use a similar site and have been surprised from time to time. Right or wrong, those of us with multiple docs really need to stay on top of this ourself and not expect them to catch it.

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  9. We take no drugs, and we are all Yankees fan!!! :o/

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  10. Sorry, my dog wants me to remind everyone that she is a Phillies fan!

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  11. I've used a similar site, but would love to find one that you could check supplements (like calcium or calcium containing foods) with. For example, while on chemo, I had to go off Vit E supplement because the chemo reduces platelets and Vit E promotes bleeding too.

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  12. Weeble, Medscape has a drug interaction checker which usually finds/lists supplements and herbs that I check on as well as meds. You do have to sign up for an account though.

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  13. @ Bibliotekaren, thanks for that info. Off to check it out.

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