Do you ever get annoyed when the doctor, who you have been seeing for years, asks what medications you are taking? Ever think to yourself, “Well, you’re my doctor, you should know what I’m taking”?
Well, your doctor has very good reasons for asking you what you are taking, even if you have been seeing them for years. To name a few…
- Another doctor may have prescribed a medication
- You may have stopped taking or self modified the dosage to one or more of your medications
- You may have started taking something new that is over the counter
There are thousands of medications on the market (prescription, over the counter, vitamins & supplements and illegal) that people utilize on a daily basis. Also, many adults have multiple physicians that they see for a number of reasons and you should never assume that your physicians communicate with each other regarding your care! And remember…you should include any vitamins & supplements you may be taking.
In this day and age it is important that you be proactive about your own medical care. Many preventable errors occur simply because the patient didn’t mention it to their doctor. You should always know the drug name (or have it written down for those hard-to-spell/hard-to-pronounce ones) and why you are taking it. Almost daily I run into patients that either have no idea what they are taking or don’t know why they are taking it.
3 reasons why you should know what medications you are taking:
- food interactions
- drug interaction
- side effects
Food Interactions: Many medications will react negatively with certain foods. Grapefruit, for example, can affect over 20 different medications!
Drug Interactions & Side Effects are more of what I see clinically. Many of my patients have a laundry list of medications that they take daily along with numerous vitamins, all of which interact with each other in some way, whether it be positively or negatively.
In the past year I have seen a patient with joint pain that was actually due to their cholesterol medication, a patient that was dizzy due to a medication interaction, and a patient sent to therapy for gait training (learning to walk correctly) due to lack of coordination that was also simply due to medication.
However, the worst drug interaction story I have heard yet was told to me during an internship. Here’s the shortened version… Pat (as we will call her) had been quite sick for several years with multiple diagnoses. She was taking xx medications per day and rapidly going downhill and the doctors finally said she only had a few days at best. She was bedridden and unable to care for herself. She decided that if she was going to die she would stop taking her medications to prolong the process. After 2 days of no meds she walked in to her kitchen to see her husband looking at her with disbelief. The excessive amounts of medications that she had been prescribed by multiple physicians were interacting with each other and causing a number of her problems. Now, that she was able to walk and care for herself again she chose a single specialized physician and they determined a set regimen of needed medications to help her, but not cause further issues.
Multiple medications are often needed to treat a patient, however if the doctors don’t have the full medication list they may prescribe things that in conjunction will actually make the patient worse or bring about new symptoms.
Do you know what medications you are taking and why you take them? -Don’t forget the vitamins & supplements too!!