scientifically grounded reasons to avoid taking medications?
July 9, 2013 3:19 AM   Subscribe

Idle curiosity filter: I know people who deliberately avoid taking medication for everyday medical problems. Whether it's allergies, the common cold, viral infections etc, I know people who say they prefer not to take medications, because they 'prefer not to put weird/artificial/chemical stuff into their body'. I am not trying to win an argument with them, I'd just like to know if there are scientifically proven reasons for minimising the amount of medication you take for everyday conditions, or avoiding medication altogether.

Apart from side-effects, obviously, what could be bad about introducing medication into your body? Does it affect your body's own natural responses to illness?

I suffer profoundly from hayfever and asthma; my family have a host of ailments, from diabetes to bipolar disorder, so I grew up seeing the taking of regular medications as a normal and important thing. It is new to me therefore to hear people denigrating 'putting things into your body' as a bad thing, and I am intrigued to hear if there is any scientific basis for doing this.
posted by Ziggy500 to Health & Fitness (32 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Any anecdotal reasons for NOT putting stuff in (or in reduced quantities) has to be compared to the double-blind study based reasons for putting it IN at the dosages recommended. This stuff isn't guesswork and the outcomes are statistically based on dosages (sometimes adjusted for body mass, etc.) some chronic condition meds have side effects, so that's a legit tradeoff, perhaps. other meds lose effectiveness due to body adaptations (like antidepressants.)

(forgive me for answering, but you did say it was idle curiosity. i'm idly speculating!)
posted by FauxScot at 3:58 AM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

You say "apart from side-effects", but side-effects are precisely why I avoid many medications.
posted by Specklet at 3:59 AM on July 9, 2013 [5 favorites]

For some specific classes of medication there is a scientific basis. Antibiotics, for example. Widespread use of them, especially without 100% compliance, can lead to bacteria developing resistance. Since this is pretty widespread knowledge nowadays, it might be that some people have a vague idea that this is true for all medications - the more we use them, the more the germs evolve.
posted by lollusc at 4:09 AM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Have you read Ben Goldacre's Big Pharma? The most scientific reason for avoiding medications is when the side effects are more damaging than the original condition. Particularly when the beneficial effects of that medication have been exagerated or manipulated by the seller.
posted by BenPens at 4:18 AM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

When your body is in pain or malfunction, it's often a message that something is wrong and there are often things you yourself can do to become healthier to change the problem; if you, for example, pop a painkiller every time you have some (minor) aches, you're just applying a band-aid solution and not getting to the root of the problem. Also, a painkiller could be harmful in the long run because you are not getting the messages of pain while on it, therefore you may do things your body really can't handle and worsen your condition. Example- you have bad knees, take painkiller to relieve the pain, then put pressure on your knees all day, worsening their condition and your eventual pain.

With the example of headaches- there are many reasons for them which have been scientifically proven- dehydration, lack of sleep, stress, eating unhealthy foods, high blood pressure. Changing one's lifestyle can immeliorate or eliminate all of these issues, and therefore the headaches (it did for me), but taking a tylenol everyday is not addressing the issue. Also, many people are wary of taking pharmaceuticals, as pharma companies are a big businesses trying to make money. They're not necessarily going to be upfront or forthright about telling you dangers and side effects.

So for me, someone who has no serious issues but tries to avoid pain medication by living a healthy life (with healthy diet and exercise), I view getting at the root cause of illness, if possible (and I acknowledge that it's not always possible) is much preferable to popping pills.
posted by bearette at 4:33 AM on July 9, 2013 [15 favorites]

I have family members who do this and they have clear reasons which are not grounded in poorly understood science.

1. Being unwell is "your body trying to tell you something". Perhaps your body is trying to tell you to take a rest from your busy schedule, or at the more extreme end, your illness is some kind of divine punishment for things you have done. It's the will of the universe, and doing an end-run around it is cheating. Instead you should work out what you did and refrain from doing it again.

2. Taking painkillers (e.g. for a broken ankle) will only lead to the ankle owner bouncing around on that ankle and impeding the healing. Or in general, much of modern medicine is treating the symptoms rather than the problem. This is the more pragmatic version of objection 1.

3. Swallowing tablets and having injections are unpleasant and it's necessary to rationalise around one's unwillingness to do either.

4. Science and technology are in general profit-motivated, at the inevitable expense of people and the planet they live on. Thus, it is a useful moral rule of thumb to avoid the products of science and technology, and prefer local products, family knowledge, and things you and those you trust are personally able to understand and/or verify. Thus, Aunt Matilda's reiki healing is trusted over and above anything from the pharma-industrial complex.

Since some of these ideas are really grounded in anti-science, or at least anti-science-funded-by-other-people, then I don't think you can look to science to help understand the objections. At least when it comes to my relatives!
posted by emilyw at 4:40 AM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

It's very easy to overgeneralize. For example, there are people who really shouldn't take pseudoephedrine--it messes with high blood pressure. If you take Afrin for more than a couple days (and even sometimes less), it can lead to rebound congestion that's as bad or worse than the original. Some antidepressants have killer withdrawal symptoms even when they aren't doing anything worthwhile for your depression, so sometimes just trying out a medication isn't even safe.

Just personally, my allergies improved markedly when I stopped taking a daily antihistamine, and I had serious problems for awhile with rebound headaches that have mostly gone away now that I'm back to only using pain relievers intermittently. I totally still take a bunch of daily meds, but after you've run into a few such problems, it's easy to feel that the pill is more likely to harm than help.
posted by Sequence at 4:41 AM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

There are lots of studies which indicate that a particular medication is no more effective than a placebo (which, as Ben Goldacre point out, often tend to be shielded from publication from the pharmaceutical industry). These usually are separate from those studies which measure potentially harmful side effects - they concentrate only on whether the drug does what it claims to do.

But these studies are different from those which might set out to demonstrate "scientifically grounded reasons to avoid taking medications". There is not a way to show this experimentally since there would have to be control groups who took all possible medicines.
posted by rongorongo at 4:41 AM on July 9, 2013

If you "suffer profoundly from hayfever and asthma" you would be foolish to avoid relief. Do your research to make sure the potential side effects are acceptable to you, but take the medicine your doctor prescribes if it relieves your suffering.

If your ailment is merely a minor annoyance, however, go ahead and experiment if that's your thing. See if what happens is acceptable to you. I generally avoid taking medicine for things like colds and minor aches and so on. The fewer unnecessary chemicals you throw down your throat, the better, because rare but serious side effects do occur.

Also, certain common recurring conditions (headaches, backaches, constipation, etc.) for which people take medicine are often better treated with changes in diet and exercise. If you can't shit, there's a very good chance you just aren't eating your veggies. Don't take Ex-Lax; take broccoli and spinach.

(But I'm talking about stuff that won't kill you one way or the other and aren't driving you crazy with pain. If you have heart trouble and you start trying to second-guess your doctors about the medicines they prescribe to keep your heart beating, you're an idiot. Yes, you need to eat right and get exercise for your heart, but if they tell you you also need this little pill once a day to avoid another heart attack, take it. There generally is no scientific reason to avoid taking medicine that was developed, produced, and dispensed by scientists, including the doctors who prescribed it specifically for you after examining you, not unless you are sure you know more about your ailment than all of those scientists put together.)
posted by pracowity at 4:50 AM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

There are very good scientific reasons not to take medication if you do not "need" it and many good scientific reasons to take it if you do "need" it. And I define "need" as meaning the medication enables you to function in your every day roles and responsibilities and/or move you progressively in that direction. Most problems with adverse events and many side effects would be eliminated if consumers read and followed he directions. There is also a recurring theme that Big Pharms can not be trusted because they are out to sell drugs and make a profit. Of course they are--However--the very real fear and threat of litigation and the controls by the FDA make Big Pharma , in my opinion, extremely forth right and transparent. i would posit that the vast majority of problems with their products are either in the prescribing or full patient compliance--neither of which they are in direct control but can influence. There are many other industries in which I have less trust. Follow the directions, tell your physician the truth and trust but verify he/she is prescribing the best drug for you.
posted by rmhsinc at 4:55 AM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Anecdote only: I've discovered that if I avoid putting medicine on my lip cold sores, they tend to not come back as often. I wonder if having a full-blown one, instead of a small one kept down by the medicine, increases my immune system.
posted by Melismata at 4:56 AM on July 9, 2013

In my experience there are some doctors who like to prescribe medications that are more or stronger than what I need. For instance I've been given pain medications like Percocet or Vicodin when it turned out a few Tylenol worked fine. I would have taken the stronger stuff if the Tylenol hadn't been enough, but I didn't, because why take something that can be addictive if I don't need to?

Same with antibiotics. I was once given them as a preventative measure after having a mole removed. Yet I'd had other moles removed, and not been given antibiotics, and been able to treat the wounds perfectly well with the topical creams I'd also gotten from the doctor. Since oral antibiotics sometimes cause scary side-effects for me, and since I'd been through the same process without them and not gotten an infection, I decided to not take them that time. And I was fine.

I think usually when people talk about not wanting to "put things into their body" it's some mistaken, hippy idea about what's "natural" or some such thing. But I also think it's foolish to not research and question why you're being prescribed X medication for Y problem. I've seen Rx drugs save lives and I've also seen them nearly end them, so I'm wary of simply taking whatever any doctor might give you without looking into it. Which doesn't mean being against taking Rx drugs, just knowing that certain drugs for certain people at certain times are not always the right thing simply because a very busy doctor who likes Pharma swag wants to prescribe them.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 5:06 AM on July 9, 2013

Some people think of medication as a crutch- extremely necessary if you you can't walk, but further debilitating if your muscles just need some building up to be able to walk better (i.e. if you take medicine for a problem that your body can solve itself, you are weakening yourself in the long run)
posted by bearette at 5:08 AM on July 9, 2013

Funny, I was just thinking about this this morning, reflecting on a conversation with someone that took their own avoidance of "medicine" to an obnoxious, holier-than-thou extreme (implying that I was probably damaging my body by putting too much "unnatural" stuff into it. Gag.). In my view, folks who decide to avoid all medications might very well be making a perfectly reasonable choice and won't suffer any bad consequences, but my personal experience is that generally, people who take a "no medication" stance either don't have any significant chronic conditions (so not taking Advil or whatever is a blip in their every day life) or the medications they would need have extreme side effects - I'm thinking psychiatric drugs, cancer drug, methotrexate, painkillers (risk of addiction), etc.

Past that, I think it really varies as to the drug, which is kind of a silly answer, but "medication" means a lot of different things.

For example, I am like you, I have asthma and several other chronic conditions.

For some of my stuff (moderate to severe asthma and allergies that exacerbate the asthma) the treatment is absolutely necessary and the medication has zero side effects for me (inhaled steroid, Zyrtec and nasal cromolyn sodium - I'm aware that Zyrtec doesn't agree with some people, and some people get oral infections from inhaled steroids, I just don't/haven't).

For others (subclinical hypothyroid and vitamin D deficiency), the symptoms of the disease are invisible to me, but the medications (vitamin D and levothyroxine) are so benign as to be worth taking them because of the risks of not treating them in case I happen to get pregnant.

For others (psoriatic arthritis, migraines), the conditions are not life-threatening (as asthma could be for me) but decrease my quality of life dramatically if I don't treat them, and the medications (Enbrel, migraine medications that have opiates and acetaminophin) carry certain non-zero or unknown-because-it's-a-young-drug risks (less resistance to infection, possible links to lymphoma, liver issues) that I am willing to live with.

In my view, most vaccines fall would fall into one of these three categories (i.e. largely worth the risk for most folks who can get the vaccine), while others (cholera and TB come to mind - if I recall from my pyblic health days, are not as effective as others, usually not needed in the U.S.) might not.

People who avoid vaccines altogether (for themselves or their children) are, in my view, in a whole separate category, which, for the sake of harmony, I won't comment on.
posted by Pax at 5:18 AM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

I'm pretty good about taking medication, but I do draw the line at taking medication for the side effects of medication -- I take something for a serious condition. It's main side effect is that it leaves me a little sleepy. The doctor tried me on a couple of stimulants that worked really poorly. It's easier to live with the mild side effect than the problems of another medication.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:22 AM on July 9, 2013

I try not to take painkillers for minor issues, especially where I don't know the root of the problem-- like killer cramps for a day, sure, but if my knee is acting up or my head is aching in an odd way, I won't. I do have an inhaler for borderline asthma but I am really sensitive to it, so I try not to use it unless absolutely necessary. I used to take a vast amount of Allegra-D and sudafed and Advil, but thankfully my allergies have gotten a little better and, more importantly, I'm better at managing my actual surroundings. I just moved and it's been probably a 50% reduction in symptoms, which I wouldn't be able to monitor if I were taking allergy meds every day. I do take vitamins and B/iron supplements (doctor's rec) and they seem to be working just fine with no issues.

I realize that a lot of this is luck: I don't have any chronic conditions, I have a job where I can work around minor medical issues, I respond well to painkillers when needed.
posted by jetlagaddict at 5:38 AM on July 9, 2013

Most 'common' medication treats the symptoms, but does nothing to help the actual cause. For example, painkillers make your headache not hurt, but they don't stop you from having another headache. Cold medication gets rid of the symptoms so you can function, but also have the potential to make your cold last slightly longer.

For someone like me, well, my most common use for painkillers is period cramps - I know the cause, and taking the painkillers isn't making it worse for sure! For something like persistent neck pain, on the other hand, taking painkillers and ignoring the problem could make it a lot worse.

A lot of medication has side effects, and also interactions with other medication. Note that this category includes alcohol and coffee! Sometimes the side effects persist long beyond when you're taking the original medication. Some medication is also addictive. Antidepressants, sleeping medication and the like can have some pretty bad side effects. And there's the ones doctors don't advertise, like birth control affecting people's sex drives sometimes.

There is also the potential for a bad batch of medication, an allergic reaction to one of the ingredients, etc. I had a vaccine as a kid once which was apparently a bad batch. I think I had a day off school sick.

There's plenty of stuff on the pharmacy shelves which doesn't actually do very much. For example, the latest batch of PE cold and flu meds (as opposed to the older, pseudoephedrine containing variant) in most studies is no more than placebo. I do not want to take a placebo, personally - and it does have side effects.

Finally, there is the potential for tolerance. If you take 'x' every day for something trivial, eventually your body might react less to 'x', and when you really need it it doesn't work as well. Or, in the case of antibiotics, the nasties might adapt. For most common medication this isn't a problem though.

TLDR: Take things sensibly. Think about the cause of whatever problem, don't 'JUST' take medication. Don't assume the doctor knows everything - check out the interactions, especially if something odd is happening.
posted by Ashlyth at 5:56 AM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I find that that the people I encounter who take avoiding medication to an extreme are a) people without any chronic illnesses and/or b) profoundly anti-science. This comes up in conversations a lot because I have several chronic illnesses which require a regime of pharmaceuticals and these are typically the people that tell me that if I stopped taking "all that poison" I'd feel better.
posted by crankylex at 5:56 AM on July 9, 2013 [12 favorites]

For more day to day aspects of no medicine, I remember reading something for a class I once took that fever can actually increase more white blood cell activity. So since then, I've stopped taking over the counter ibuprofen or acetaminophen whenever I get a slight fever that comes with some form of viral infection or common cold. I only turn to antibiotics (even though some give me diarrhea...but necessary evil in this case) if I know that I'm suffering from a bacterial infection (strep, sinus infections, etc).

Growing up, my parents always cautioned against the extraneous use of over the counter medicines too because, like what other people have said, they realized that most of our day to day woes are completely self-inflicted (not drinking enough water, not eating well, etc).

On a even more anecdotal vein, I avoid prescription pain killers like the plague! For some reason, I react terribly to them (but apparently I'm ridiculously tolerant to topical anesthetics and IV ones??!) and usually end up puking my guts out after taking even half the prescribed dose. I also avoid naproxen sodium (Aleve) after being put on it to try to get rid of the swelling that came with tendinitis in my hand because that gave me the worst stomach cramps of my life. Ibuprofen is also used sparingly now for me. I actually had to "detox" from ibuprofen for almost a year for it to be effective again after my doctor had me try the maximum safe dosage for about 6 weeks in order to try to fix tendinitis in my foot. Cortisone injections are also no go since they tend to fix the symptom rather than the problem. Funnily enough, the therapy that did work for fixing that tendinitis was just a dextrose solution. Go figure. Not sure if that counts as medication?

I don't shun painkillers all the time though. I'll take it if I know I'll get a terrible migraine (usually brought on for me by really quick temperature drops. Living in Chicago was NOT ideal for this) or if I know that I have to push through pretty bad muscle soreness for some reason or another, but generally I'll try to let things take their courses.

I guess for me, it's been a bit trial and error to know what to take and what not to take. Granted though, I am a young, healthy, and relatively active person. Maybe my views will change in the future?
posted by astapasta24 at 6:18 AM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

One thing that cracks me up is the people who won't take an anti-depressant, but will pop St. John's Wort like tic-tacs. Both a pharmaceutical and a botanical will work in similar ways. The difference is that a pharmaceutical will have been tested and will be consistent from one dose to the next.

Aspirin is derrived from tree bark, Digitalis comes from a plant. Many pharmaceuticals come from a botanical base.

Here's an anecdote. Many of my writer friends suffer from anxiety and depression, as do I. I take a low dose of anti-anxiety medicine and it really, really helps. It totally messes with my writing though. I'll cop to that.

I know people who would rather be creative and emotional messes than medicated and have writers block.

I have also discovered that my anti-histamine, blood pressure meds, anti-anxiety pills and my HRT are all contributing to my inability to take weight off. Oh well.

It's always a cost/benefit analysis. It's not weird that some folks don't want to take medicine. It's not weird that some people do.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:19 AM on July 9, 2013 [7 favorites]

We are starting to decline some medications as frequently for us and our kids for three reasons: guts, consistency and shame.

Antibiotics are very effective, but that effectiveness in wiping out an infection also wipes out a lot of your gut flora. With two of our kids, that shows in diarrhoea almost immediately. We can use probiotics and yogurt and hopefully their systems will recover, but you have to balance the effect of a course of antibiotics, especially several times a year, over recovering more slowly from a mild infection. Our family doctor is okay with this and tells us when we need them and when we can wait to see if the illness will go on its own.

The second is consistency. It is really really hard to get one of my kids to finish a course of antibiotics because she believes the moment she is feeling better that she is done. She firmly believes in medicine but only as much as she can directly sense it within a few hours. She has prescriptions to prevent migraines and allergies and will not use them because she can't see the absence of illness as a sign that they're working. I have to insist on antibiotics being finished but have given up on the other preventive medications.

Then there's shame. I've read this is common in teens with diabetes also. Taking medication for a chronic condition or a mental illness can be really hard for some people because the medication is a symbolic acknowledgement that you are not fully healthy, that you are struggling and need external help. I have a family member going through this now, and it's just so hard because the pills are a daily reminder of what they perceive as a failure.
posted by viggorlijah at 7:45 AM on July 9, 2013

Since you asked for scientific basis, here are some articles (or abstracts) of scientific studies:

Analgesic dependence

Rhinitis Medicamentosa

Bone Density and Depo Provera

Teratogenic Risk and Infertility from Antipsychotics; Ulcerative Colitis Meds; Sperm DNA damage from SSRIs

And some articles on reasons for patient non-compliance:

At the end of the day though, I think it's probably fear of the more common side effects that prevents people from taking medicine. Drowsiness, dry mouth, nausea, insomnia, tremors, heart palpitations, and fear of dependence or resistance.

For me, if I can just make a lifestyle change (diet, exercise, hydration, etc), I would do that before taking medicine. If your knees hurt, and you're overweight, it's probably better to lose weight than to just take a handful of Tylenol every day. Obviously for some conditions, lifestyle changes have limited effectiveness, and the patient and doctor should do a cost-benefit analysis of the drug's intended effects vs side effects. People have different risk profiles.
posted by melissasaurus at 7:54 AM on July 9, 2013

I have no problem taking medications if they make me feel better. But if they don't make me feel better, and have no positive effect at all, then why should I eat a bunch of unknown chemicals that just have to get filtered out when my body is already having problems?

For example, I don't like taking cold medications because I get the feeling they're making me feel worse than I would have otherwise, and depressing my system/giving my system another problem to deal with on top of the cold. Also for awhile I didn't take painkillers at all because I felt like they didn't work, so what's the point. Now I can feel a difference, so I take them. Other people don't understand this, and it might not even be scientific, but it's my intuition. You have to respect other peoples' feelings about what's going on in their bodies.
posted by bleep at 7:59 AM on July 9, 2013

Also for awhile I didn't take painkillers at all because I felt like they didn't work, so what's the point. Now I can feel a difference, so I take them.

I totally agree with this. I feel very little benefit from OTC painkillers (never needed prescription strength), so I don't bother with them. Why take acetaminophen and put unneeded stress on my liver? And when I was taking ibuprofen every day to keep down swelling from shin splints, I got an ulcer within a week. If I get a headache, I probably just need water or caffeine.

The same seems true of most OTC medicines: the benefits are so slight that they're not worth the hassle or possible side effects. The only common medicines that really seem to be worth the trouble are pseudoephedrine and diphenhydramine, which are both totally worth the drowsiness. Cetirizine usually works for my allergies too, but it often doesn't last the full 24 hours until I can take the next dose.
posted by stopgap at 8:52 AM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I know this would probably account for only a tiny number of people you're talking about, but sometimes women who are trying to get pregnant will avoid over the counter drugs, because there's a period of the cycle known as the two-week-wait where they might be pregnant but won't be able to know for sure. There are quite a few common OTC drugs you're supposed to avoid while pregnant, including ibuprofen. Some OBGYNS also believe NSAIDS can actually impair fertility and recommend women trying to conceive only take it while actually menstruating.

And if these women are trying to conceive, they may not want to tell you that's the real reason they're avoiding OTC drugs.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 8:54 AM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Most medications have side effects, and some of the side effects are severe, so it's always a trade-off. For things like vaccinations, people who avoid them are anti-social idiots. There is a very small individual risk, against a huge individual and social benefit. Some people will take medication for cholesterol and diabetes, but won't change their diet and exercise habits, which is idiotic in the other direction. I've had severe side effects from prescribed medication, so being wary looks like good sense to me.
posted by theora55 at 10:08 AM on July 9, 2013

I have read that taking pain and fever meds for "comfort" (i.e. when they are moderate) delays healing. I think the theory is that pain is information and pain killers interfere with the body knowing where it needs to direct resources. But if you are seriously jacked up -- pain is extreme, fever is dangerously high -- then appropriate medication speeds healing. I think there was a study and it showed that no meds for moderate pain and fever meant patients were well on average about a day sooner (I think for a healing time frame of about a week, iirc). But if pain is severe, inability to sleep, etc, slows healing and dumps additional stress hormones into the system, etc.

Just another anecdata point: I am someone with a chronic, incurable, deadly condition. I take no medication but it took me a lot of years to get to the point where I could manage my issues without "drugs" (but that's kind of a word game anyway because I consume stuff daily that is classifiable as a drug depending on how it is packaged -- life is chemistry). I get mistaken for someone who is extreme anti-drug, holier-than-thou...yadda...about it. I am not.

I say that to say this: If you have some holier than thou preachy friend, instead of focusing on the (ass)holiness, ask how they deal with x, y or z issue. If they have a solution for your problem, you can consider trying it and see if it works for you. It might be an improvement over the pills you are popping. If they don't have any practical suggestions for how to manage the issue without drugs, then you can nicely let them know it is time to stfu and stop trying to deny you treatment.

I have also seen plenty of references to studies on scary things like antibiotic use leading to way scary infections, antibiotic use leading to worsening of certain problems, etc. But a) I don't have citations at my fingertips and b) I don't know how to separate that info neatly from my own firsthand experiences and opinions and those firsthand things get me into all kinds of hot water. However, you could memail me if you want to chat.
posted by Michele in California at 10:33 AM on July 9, 2013

I used to avoid taking medication, thinking simply, I don't need this. It turns out that I don't need a lot of things but they make my time on this planet more enjoyable. It took a while for me to come to this conclusion. I also saw taking medication as a sign of weakness or something that sick people do. I'm not weak or sick, I just have a debilitating headache. Well, if an Excedrin Migraine makes it so I can actually enjoy my day instead of wanting to cry from pain, I think that's an okay trade-off.

There are also concerns about becoming addicted to things, which I understand. Additionally, people occasionally experience side effects or complications from medications because they don't understand what they're taking. My father nearly passed out after taking his daily pill to decrease his blood pressure with a glass of orange juice because sometimes taking things with orange juice makes them work faster (??) so his blood pressure dropped more quickly than he anticipated. My husband has found that taking cold medicine makes his restless leg syndrome worse. I'm taking bupropion and if I drink too much alcohol, I can't sleep (which sucks a lot because that's what I want to do most after drinking).

That's all anecdotal but there are also countless instances of people who took antibiotics while on birth control and got pregnant because antibiotics make birth control less effective. And people who unintentionally overdose and ruin their livers with acetaminophen because it's in so many different medications.

In my opinion, these issues basically come down to being an informed consumer and weighing the costs and benefits of taking medication.
posted by kat518 at 11:10 AM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Sometimes people take a skewed impression from the "war on drugs'. They do not take prescriptions for fear of becoming addicted. There is also the sentiment that "I got this far without Rx", I'll be fine in a couple of days.
posted by Cranberry at 12:20 PM on July 9, 2013

Even the safest medicines and procedures in the world aren't 100% safe. All bring risk. And low risk of frightful results is still frightful.

Consider: you don't know your'e allergic to penicillin until you take penicillin and get sick.

Furthermore, doctors don't build practices by telling patients to go home and keep a stiff upper lip. They offer ass-covering procedures and tests, and prescriptions for palliative drugs. Your policy can be to generally go with that, or to generally resist it....and the latter's obviously most prudent.
posted by Quisp Lover at 1:09 PM on July 9, 2013

Just avoid the argument, don't try to win it. You know your health issues, you choose to take medications [presumably] knowing that there are potential side effects. Others prefer the ailment instead of those side effects. Remember, different bodies react differently. You know your body, they know theirs. To each their own, live and let live.
posted by Neekee at 1:17 PM on July 9, 2013

Taking painkillers (e.g. for a broken ankle) will only lead to the ankle owner bouncing around on that ankle and impeding the healing.

I'm not sure I'd call this well grounded - inflamation is not your friend.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:01 PM on July 9, 2013

« Older Dealing with The Ex (who isn't mine).   |   How to I dress beyond the... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.