Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Taking Multiple Drugs Can Be Hazardous To Your Health


I recently read an article by Gary Graig on The Menacing Mathematics of Multiple Meds. He offered a fascinating discussion on the interactions of different medications. Very few drugs have been tested to see if there are negative side effects when you take them with other drugs. While the odds of negative side effects might be small when you take just one drug, the math changes as you increase the number of drugs a person is taking.

To test three drugs for adequate safety in the various combinations would require 7 separate tests. If you take 4 drugs, the combinations require 25 separate tests. Taking 5 drugs calls for 121 tests and 10 drugs would require 362,881 separate tests.

How many people are taking between 5 and 10 drugs a day and have no idea what the combination of these drugs will do? I personally remember when my father was in a nursing home taking multiple drugs each day. When they added another drug he started to develop dementia symptoms.

Since the symptoms didn’t show up immediately after he started to take it, it took a while for us to realize what was happening. My brother is the one who actually told the doctor to take him off the drug.

The result – his symptoms disappeared almost overnight.
So…if you know someone taking a lot of drugs, be very wary when other unexplained symptoms show up. It may be due to side effects.

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