THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Erol Vekil Headshot

Why I Don't Rush To Take Prescription Drugs

Posted: Updated:
PHARMACEUTICALS
Vstock via Getty Images
Print

Let me start saying that from my "experience," and that's what this article is all about (not expertise), probably most of my visits to doctors and specialists as a patient have been a waste of my time, plus a misuse of all kind of resources depending on where one is living and what kind of insurance one would have.

The main reason of these unsuccessful visits was not the diagnosis, which was necessary, but the inefficacy of the drugs my doctors felt compelled to prescribe. Some would either not work, or some would have too many side effects, short or long term depending on their usage.

Almost all health related articles I read are either written by medical doctors or pharmacologists, or by journalists who often quote the medical community.

So I decided that as a "patient," I too would like to express my opinion, confident that the medical establishment will not be over protective or offended should I do so.

In fact, just as "listening to our clients or users" is essential in our businesses, I am assuming doctors and pharmaceutical companies as well will find it beneficial to hear the opinions of their patients.

I just want to emphasize at the start of this article that there are patients, and then there are "patients." My guess is if you are reading this article, you probably will fall into this category of whom I have in mind: Educated (a school degree or beyond), have common sense, have the access and skills to use the Internet and the ability to distinguish a good health website from a pretentious one.

Some understandably may not fall under this description, like people who do not have web access or simply cannot use a computer, but we are still talking about a large segment of the adult population. Health issues requiring immediate intervention are not part of this reading as well.

According to USA CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) surveys done in certain years of the second half of this decade, in a single particular year, nearly 125 million people made hospital outpatient visits while 928 million made physician office visits. That's over one billion visits in total.

Mayo Clinic in its 2013 published limited study cites that the most common reasons for visits were skin ailments such as acne, cysts or dermatitis. Then it was osteoarthritis, back problems, cholesterol problems and upper respiratory conditions excluding asthma.

The lead study author says "Surprisingly, the most prevalent non-acute conditions in our community were not chronic conditions related to aging, such as diabetes and heart conditions, but rather conditions that affect both genders and all age groups. For instance, nearly half the study population suffered from a skin disorder."

Now look at all the figures above and decide for yourself. Do you really want to see a doctor and get prescription drugs immediately for acnes? I have observed numerous cases of teenagers and young adults that I know. Some have healed by over the counter remedies, some by home treatments like following diets, and some have had their symptoms simply disappear in time.

Having said all above, one adult acne case I know of needed two years of prescription drug treatment which finally produced some satisfactory results. The issue here though is that we may never know if it was the treatment itself that caused the healing or if the medications taken (which had so many side effects) were justifiable.

This website reflects such concerns.

Back pains? Mayo Clinic says it's one of the most common reasons people go to the doctor or miss work. Their advice is that for most back pain episodes, simple home treatment will work.

Many of my friends had to undergo useless MRI's and X-rays even for their first ever episode of back pains, and had to visit several physicians and health care providers. Instead of doing so, they could have searched and visited reputable web-sites like the AAOS (Orthopedic Surgeons Association) and practised the recommended daily exercises which in many cases are proven to give relief.

Some would leave their doctor's office with a prescription in hand for pain killers or advice to use the counter top equivalent ones. A good number of these patients were also referred to physiotherapists or chiropractors.

Having high cholesterol? If I ever discover I do have high cholesterol, I'm certainly not going to take any pills for this condition and live with their side effects. I know many people who have treated cholestrol and high tryglicerides by themselves once they were properly equipped with the knowledge and determination to do so.

The below study quoted by the NY Times in 2016 was done on a large study of 12,000 people. Even though blood test results showed positive readings on the study group that took a cholestrol drug, the cardiovascular related deaths were nearly the same of those who did not take such pills at all.

My friends improved their health by simply increasing their mobility and vastly improving their diets. Just read the advices on a good authorative web-site and then get a second opinion from another one if needed.

Same with blood sugar. If it's borderline there are credible sites out there (government or well known reputable sites like hospitals and clinics) which will tell you what to do. As a patient, my opinion is that those recommendations will be much more superior than those sugar lowering pills. Apparently research also backs up what I'm saying. One study group saw benefits as high as 71% by following diet and exercise.

And respiratory conditions as a common cause of doctor's visit? Sure, most are actually a reference to the common cold, many which should disappear whether you treat them with drugs or not.

According to this Johns Hopkins research, in a one year period, people in the US will suffer one billion colds.

Many patients will realize something out of the ordinary. If the symptoms they are having are persisting for weeks or months, or taking a turn for the worse, those could be warning signs. Then that's the time I would see my doctor and listen to his advice carefully.

All my above statements certainly do not diminish my respect and admiration for most doctors, surgeons and medical health professionals. I am grateful that they are within reach and whenever help is needed but I also know that they need to follow certain protocols and prescribe medications, even when they don't have too much confidence in them. It's also for some doctors probably a way of justifying themselves if something indeed goes wrong.

All I am saying is: "Don't overburden yourselves with unnecessary drugs usage." There are a miracle drugs out there like antibiotics, insulin and corticosteroids that can be life saving but unfortunately, in my opinion, there are far too many medications that simply do not cure.

Then there are the multi-billion dollars antidepressants and the non prescription vitamins and supplements industries which I don't want to venture into now since each of these topics alone deserve their own opinion articles like this one.

So many of these drugs have undesirable side effects that they may seriously affect your health instead of actually being beneficial. Talk to your physician and listen carefully. Does the benefit really outweigh the harm? Have many of his/her patients got cured (or truly had relief) from their symptoms with the prescribed drug?

So please use common sense and educate yourselves. Be also aware that your doctor may or may not approve of this message.

Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook