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Socrates A. Garrigos, MD, PA

Do You Really Need That Medication? Here's How to Tell

Dec 14, 2023
Do You Really Need That Medication? Here's How to Tell
Pharmaceutical therapy can be invaluable for chronic disease management unless its risks or side effects outweigh its benefits. Here, we explore the importance of staying abreast of your meds to safeguard your health.

Three in five adults (60%) in the United States have been diagnosed with at least one chronic illness, and two in five adults (40%) are dealing with two or more chronic diseases. Long-term illnesses like diabetes and heart disease require ongoing management, and in many cases, that involves pharmaceutical therapy. 

Most adults in the United States take at least one prescription drug to control a chronic illness, and many older adults take several medications. Drug therapy can be an invaluable component of care — unless its risks or side effects outweigh its benefits. 

As a geriatric care expert specializing in chronic disease management at Socrates A. Garrigos, MD, PA, in McAllen, Texas, Dr. Socrates Garrigos understands the importance of ongoing medication management at every age. Here’s what you should know. 

Stabilize, improve, and protect your health 

The primary goal of drug therapy is to stabilize or improve your condition and safeguard your health. Taking the correct medication at the right time can help treat or prevent disease, improve your well-being, and make you feel better.  

Sometimes, medications get prescribed for a brief period to achieve a specific goal, such as when you take antibiotics to treat a bacterial infection. When it comes to managing a chronic illness, however, medications are more likely to be prescribed for an indefinite term. 

Antihypertensive drugs, for example, can reduce high blood pressure levels more quickly than diet changes, exercise, and weight loss alone. But in the long run, healthy lifestyle changes may be all it takes to maintain normalized blood pressure levels. Some people can stop taking these medications after a short period, while others need them indefinitely.   

Weighing a drug’s health benefits and risks

Many people take medication as a regular part of their daily routine. Whether designed to cure an infection, treat hypertension, control blood sugar levels, ease chronic pain, alleviate depression symptoms, or something else, it’s important to recognize that every drug carries risks as well as benefits.    

The benefits of medications are helpful health effects; its risks are the possibility that something unexpected — such as an unwanted side effect or drug interaction — could happen when you use it. Medication risks vary from minor side effects like dry mouth and drowsiness to more serious health effects like liver damage. 

The trouble with taking multiple medications 

Ensuring safe, effective, and optimally beneficial drug therapy can be challenging, particularly when multiple prescription meds are involved. Why? There are many risks involved with taking two or more medications, including:

  • Increased chance of side effects
  • Higher risk of drug interactions 
  • Greater likelihood of user error  
  • Taking unnecessary medications  

Anyone who takes multiple medications faces these risks to some degree, but certain factors make them more likely. Your chances of experiencing adverse problems related to your drug therapy plan increase if you:

Take five or more drugs

While there’s no official limit to the number of medications that are safe to take at one time, you’re far more likely to experience unsafe interactions and side effects when you take five or more drugs, whether they’re prescription, over-the-counter, or a mix of both.  

Have multiple providers

You’re also more likely to experience drug side effects and interactions — and take medications you don’t need — if more than one health care provider prescribes your medicines, especially if a given provider doesn’t know about your other prescriptions.  

Are of advancing age  

Your body processes medication changes as you age and with certain health conditions. For example, reduced kidney function can keep meds in your system longer than typical, leading to dangerous levels of drug compounds in your body. 

Are you still benefiting from that medication? 

The key to knowing whether you need that medication? Medication management, or the attentive accounting and control of every medication you’re taking at a given time, including:

  • Prescription and over-the-counter medicines 
  • Vitamin supplements and herbal remedies
  • Medicated ointments, drops, and injections   

The objective? Ensure your medication plan is safe, effective, and appropriate today and continues to meet your health needs as they evolve. 

By regularly reviewing the efficacy, dosage, side effects, potential interactions, ease of use, and adherence success of every medication you take, medication management can help:

  • Ensure all current medications are still safe, effective, and beneficial for you
  • Replace or eliminate any medication deemed harmful or unneeded
  • Adjust dosage or switch to another drug to address bothersome side effects
  • Recognize when a drug isn’t working so you can course-correct quickly
  • Get involved in your care and keep you engaged in your treatment needs

Not sure if you should still be taking those meds? We’re here to help. To learn more about the medication management services at Socrates A. Garrigos, MD, PA, call us today or use our online booking feature to schedule a visit at our office in McAllen, Texas.