Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The FDA Can't Warn You About Stupidity

          Read the damned bottle. You heard me, read it. The back of the bottle of ibuprofen in our medicine cabinet has a host of information on it, from dosing suggestions, to possible allergic reactions, to warnings about stomach bleeding. I just read an article that left me shaking my head and yelling (to no one), “Are you really that stupid?!” The article was about Tylenol and the line that set me off was “They tell you it’s medicine,” he said. “They don’t tell you it cankill you.”
half the label is warnings... kind of hard to miss.

         Aside from the stories we’ve all heard of angsty teenagers trying to kill themselves by swallowing a whole bottle of Tylenol, common sense should set off some sort of alarm any time you ingest something that is a chemical your body did not produce. (And just for the record, the CDC reported that more people died in New Jersey of Septicemia(blood infection) in 2010 than died of accidentally taking too much acetaminophen in the whole US between 2001-2010). If you are taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatory or pain medications, you are subverting your body’s natural healing process. Your conscious brain is not smarter than your autonomous nervous system. If you are feeling pain or having inflammation, it’s because there is something wrong. A painful ankle sprain might keep you from putting on your stilettos, preventing further injury. Inflammation – same idea – it gets you to eliminate whatever pathogen is causing the problem. Or, warns you to stop exercising overworked joints. Healthy individuals take pain medications because they are uncomfortable, not because the body is working incorrectly. It’s unnatural.
            Treating disease may have a different goal, to correct a malfunction in the body, but it still involves putting a chemical in the body that it didn’t think it needed. Why don’t people read the labels? In the end it’s not the drug companies that are at fault when you suffer from a medication you take, it’s you. YOU put the stuff in your mouth and swallowed it. It is not in the pharmaceutical industry’s best interest to kill their customer base. They wouldn’t make any money if you were dead. And doctors, well, I have a pretty dim view of doctors right now, but overall if they prescribe a drug it’s because they believe the benefit of the medication outweighs the risks and side effects. It is your responsibility to read the information that comes with the medications and decide for yourself if you agree.
            When it says on the bottle “Do not drink alcohol when taking this medication,” it’s usually because doing so will make you ill. I can personally attest to this being true. When it says you shouldn’t drink grapefruit juice with a medication, it’s not because the pharmaceutical companies are trying to take down the citrus industry. They do this thing called “research” where they find out how different medications are metabolized by the body. All of this information is clear as day on the leaflets that come from the pharmacy and usually also on the drug’s website.
If you are too lazy to read this information before you swallow, then you deserve what you get!
            So, I was taking this drug Topamax for migraine prevention, and now I’m not. It’s kind of a nasty medication – I would go so far as to recommend that if someone offers it to you as a solution for something, you should tell them to come up with another idea. One of the side effects that I got to experience when I started it (and every time I changed the dose it progressed) was something many refer to as “brain fog.” For me it’s been having holes shot through my short-term memory and then a haze to cover it all. To be honest it feels like early onset Alzheimer's. My doctor at the time assured me “that can happen with this drug,” as if it were like having an itchy mosquito bite. The drug did what it was supposed to for a little while so I put up with haziness. You weigh your options … horrible pain in your head at least half the month or being a bit of a space cadet. I picked the space cadet. Then when the drug stopped working and my doctor stopped listening to me, I found a new doctor! The common thread in this paragraph is ME. I took it, I weighed the options, I changed my mind. (And the coming off this drug process is much worse than the tapering on, so I am feeling very looney tuney right now.)
            We have to stop blaming institutions for our own choices. We shouldn’t demand regulation for things that we should be smart enough to figure out for ourselves. It’s bad enough that it says “Caution Hot” on the outside of a coffee cup. It’s embarrassing! If you want a quick fix to something, you have to expect that it’s not going to be perfect. Nothing is perfect.

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