Negative Effects of Medicine Outweighing the Benefits
Medicine is the science of prevention, cure and alleviation of disease. Substances used to treat diseases, ailments or infections are also referred to as medicine. Generally, medicine is perceived as drugs or treatments that help the body’s immune system fight germs, relieve symptoms and cure disease if taken over a period of time.
Symptoms may come in the form of fever, colds, coughing, muscle pain or nausea. Our body’s immune system tries to fight the infection or abnormal physical changes and thus result to these symptoms. A great portion of medicines today, nevertheless, treat these symptoms. Once they disappear, patients would think that they no longer need to go to a doctor.
Consequently, the ailment can get worse if neglected. Since the virus or bacteria has encountered a drug, it will develop a kind of immunity to the drug. The drug may be as effective the next time it is taken by the patient. And as the infection develops, the patient’s health is exposed to risk. Usually, another kind of medicine is used for treatment. And when the abnormality becomes immune to the ‘healing’ effect of the drug, again, doctors will revert to another medicine.
Drug abuse is often caused by too much use of drugs whether prescribed or not prescribed. Even doctors err. Mostly, errors are made due to biases purported by aggressive and massive pharmaceutical advertising. Even if the drug does not truly answer all the needs of the patient, doctors-for the sake of supporting other benefactors.
Medicine is presented in a variety of forms and the amount of information on available medicine can be overwhelming. They come in tablets, caplets, syrups, ointments, injections or drops. Medicine should be prescribed by qualified doctors. Yet, for immediate treatment, albeit temporarily, the prevailing symptoms are treated without sound medical advice so that the patient can go back to work.
Even pharmacists can suggest medicines that are available over-the-counter to treat minor illnesses. It may be assumed that people will use the right dosage and follow the leaflet instructions. But dosage is heavily dependent on a person’s age, size and degree of illness as well as a person’s possible allergic reaction to some substances. A medicine for one person may not be appropriate for another person.
Most over the counter drugs are used to reduce or subdue the pain, inflammation or infection but do not attack the root of the pain, inflammation or infection. Unless the root of disease is diagnosed and confronted, there are chances that the illness worsen or develop a complication through the combination of drugs the person has taken.
Advertising plays a significant role in promoting available medication to cater to various ills and pains from short term to long term ailing conditions. Naturally, pharmaceutical companies, considering the tough global competition these days, would want to increase their market share. In copywriters’ attempt to simplify the benefits of medicine, they try not to give emphasis on the medicines’ possible negative effect on the patient.
Warnings are mandated by law, but they are noticeably placed at the bottom of the prescription leaflet included in medicines. Benefits are pushed while equally important precautions are downplayed. Commonly used pain relievers are perceived as virtually harmless. Either pharmaceutical manufacturers or distributors advertently do not include prescription leaflets when they are placed in the market.
For example, The Texas Institute presents digitalis, a drug used to treat congestive heart failure and heart rhythm problems, as a medicine used to increase blood flow to the body and reduce hand and ankle swelling. Serious side effects include dizziness, palpitations, loss of appetite and erectile dysfunction. However, this drug is also used as an anesthetic. Misdiagnosis and inadequate patient information and diagnosis prior to prescription can cause irreversible ailing conditions from sight-related to death.
Another potentially harmful drug is Succinylcholine. It is primarily used as anesthetic. Incorrect dosage and improper administration can make the lungs stop functioning and eventually cause death. It is virtually untraceable upon death since succinylcholine metabolizes to succinic acid and choline, both present in the human body (Katre 18). This drug has evidently been presented in suicide and murder cases.
Extreme precaution and safety must be taken when considering of taking medications. Today, even some pain relievers have been marketed to children in the form of chewable tablets with candy-like flavors. This kind of approach may develop in children too much confidence and reliance on medicine. Which can be dangerous when carried as they grow up.
Common side effects include dizziness, fatigue, and nausea. Occasionally allergic reactions can develop after taking medication. If children feel worse than before, or if they develop high temperatures or rashes, they should tell an adult immediately. Emphasize that communication is important; no one knows their bodies better than themselves. If they are bringing any medicine to school, place the medicine in a clear sealed bag along with clear instructions and instruct your child to alert their teacher immediately when they enter the classroom. Most schools have policies in place where the child will take their medication under the supervision of the school nurse. By describing their symptoms and being honest, doctors, nurses, teachers and parents can help them feel better.
Some drugs have side effects that if not taken cautiously and with a valid physician’s directions, can worsen the case of the patient. Some drugs have addictive effect and may lead to dependence. For example, Steroids, medically used for patients recovering from a surgery and cancer treatment and an ingredient in birth control tablets, prescription and non-prescription creams and ointments that control rashes and itching.
However, increased intake will affect behavior, aggressiveness and sexual desire. There are reports of violence and criminal behavior in individuals taking steroids. Other side effects cause sleeping disorders, confusion, paranoia, hallucinations as well as swelling of different body parts. Withdrawal symptoms may cause mental depression, mood changes and suicidal tendencies.
Sometimes patients do not dig deeper and ask qualified doctors to help in the diagnosis of illness or disease. One reason is the increasing costs of medical consultation and testing. In some cases, patients stop their treatment because of the rising cost of treatment and drugs.
The increasing information on the possible harmful, irreversible side effects of medicine as well increasing cost of medical treatment has led more people to turn to alternative medicine. Top 5 conditions for which people seek complementary or alternative medicine: back pain or problems, head or chest cold, neck pain, joint pain or stiffness, arthritis, gout and lupus (Barnes 12).
Let us not disregard the fact that medicine saves lives. A large part of medicine has yet to be backed up with substantial, experiential and unprejudiced research. Which gives us much concern to the drugs prescribed even by doctors. True, pharmaceutical companies are liable to public safety. They must answer to complaints and misrepresentations. But the irreversibility of some side effects and of a patient’s death cannot be taken back.
Katre AM, Parab SG. Post-operative muscle pain and serum potassium changes following self-taming of succinyl choline-induced fasciculations. J Postgrad Med [serial online] (1982) 28:18-23 [cited 2008 Apr 29] Available from: http://www.jpgmonline.com/text.asp?1982/28/1/18/5612
Barnes PM et al. Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults: United States, 2002. Advance Data. (2004)343:1-19.
Heart Information Center. Digitalis Medicines. Texas Institute at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital. (2007) [cited 2008 Apr 29] Available from http://www.texasheartinstitute.org/HIC/Topics/Meds/digimeds.cfm
Wang, Katherine OD, FAAO. Adverse Ocular Side-Effects of Commonly Prescribed Systemic Medications. Pacific University College of Optometry. (2006) [ cited 2008 Apr 29] Available from http://www.opt.pacificu.edu/ce/catalog/11466-PH/WangDrugs.html