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Over-Medicating October 1, 2007

When I was 21 years old I had a strange stomach problem that made me constantly nauseous. I went to my doctor ecounted my stomach ailments to my physician.

After describing my symptoms for about 10 minutes, he said to me, “You have an ulcer.”

He then prescribed Prilosec to me, telling me to take the pills every day for the rest of my life. I didn’t. Instead, I got more testing and found out that I had acquired a parasite in Morocco and it had been living in my stomach for 6 months. I got the proper medication and got rid of it.

As the saying goes, “There’s a pill for every ill.” Popping pills is the quick fix solution for a nation that prefers tanning salons over the sun and microwaves over stoves.

The formula? If there is a problem, find a quick and easy solution. The fewer steps you take to reach your goal, the better. Does your back hurt? Take a Celebrex. Anxious? Xanax. Can’t sleep? Valium. Depressed? Well, there’s a plethora of pills for that one.

Unfortunately, all of these pills have side affects on the body, as all foreign and unnatural substances do. Which is why people should question what doctors are prescribing to them, particularly if the doctor is new and knows little about your health background.

In September of 2007, an article in the New York Times discussed the negative effects of polypharmacies – the medical term for taking various prescriptions pills at once – on older populations. It also proposed various solutions and preventative tips. The article raised a larger point for me: older individuals just have weaker immune systems, but if something is bad for you, it is bad for you regardless of age. It does not comfort me to know that my body is simply better at ‘fighting off’ the negative effects of the medley of drugs some doctor is giving me.

Logically, I should ask my doctor what is right for me. The problem with that is that my doctor may have no idea what is right for me because he was never properly informed. In a Mother Jones’ interview with Dr. Marcia Angell, the author of “The Truth about Drug Companies,” Angell states that pharmaceutical companies spend 2.5 times more on marketing pills than researching them. The doctors don’t know because the companies selling the drugs don’t know.

One online resource, Beliefnet, is available for individuals to check potentially harmful interactions betweens different medications and supplements.