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How Many Medications Do You Take? Do You Need Them All?

By Dr. Carrie Jones Expert HERWriter
do you need all your medications? how many drugs are you taking? iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Imagine this story. A woman has high cholesterol, requiring her to take a pill to lower her numbers. This causes her muscles to feel sore, inducing her to take routine pain medications.

The pain starts to wear on her affecting her mood, so she swallows an antidepressant that causes nausea, therefore she uses an anti-nausea medication to help her get through the day.

One of these medications causes mild to moderate heartburn at night therefore she cannot sleep and requires a heartburn medication on days she remembers, and if not she pops something for sleep.

Some days she does both for good measure.

This may sound like a joke, however the journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience published a report that 4.02 billion drug prescriptions were doled out last year. That is a whole lot of medications.

Leading the list in sales is Lipitor (for cholesterol) followed by Plavix (blood clots), Nexium (heartburn), Abilify (depression and bi-polar), Advair (asthma), Seroquel (depression and bi-polar), Singulair (asthma), Crestor (cholesterol), Cymbalta (depression), and Humira (autoimmune arthritis and Crohn’s disease).

In terms of actual prescriptions versus sales, the 2010 numbers show that the pain medication hydrocodone/APAP (commonly known as Vicodin) tops the list followed by Amoxicillin (antibiotic), Lipitor (cholesterol), Levothyroxine (thyroid), Lisinopril (blood pressure), Simvastatin (cholesterol), Plavix (blood clots), Nexium (heartburn), and Singulair (asthma).

Interestingly, the top psychiatric medicine routinely prescribed is Xanax which is commonly used for anxiety, however it is addictive and should be used sparingly.

This goes to show you the extremely high amount of stress and anxiety in our society in the last year (or two) given the numbers.

Looking at the sales numbers and actual numbers sheds a lot of light onto the health issues of Americans. Clearly pain, cholesterol, and psychiatric issues are a huge issue requiring a lot of medication.

How many are you on and do you need them all?

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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