More Useful Stuff
1. OTC SLEEP MEDS
These drugs block the action of a key neurotransmitter, causing both your brain and your bladder to fall asleep. That’s usually not a problem, unless you already have trouble peeing because of an enlarged prostate, in which case you could end up needing a catheter. Sleep meds can also mask underlying medical problems, since insomnia is often a symptom of something (most commonly depression) that you and your GP need to address directly.
Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, may do more than just upset your stomach. In susceptible people, they can eat holes in its lining, causing life-threatening internal bleeding. If you have a history of ulcers or a bleeding disorder (or high blood pressure or kidney disease, which can also be aggravated by NSAIDs), even occasional use is a bad idea. Your headache may make you feel like you want to die, but trust me – it’s not a good trade.
Sedatives containing lorazepam, diazepam, alprazolam, clonazepam and all their other benzodiazepine chemical kin are highly addictive. They’re also frequently misused, often for misdiagnosed conditions, such as depression and insomnia, which they don’t really treat. For occasional stress-induced anxiety, meditation or relaxation training is much safer than popping tranquilisers, and either of those options is at least as effective for most people.
For people with bad chronic pain, ipioid narcotics can provide life-changing relief – but also the potential for life-ending addiction. No one should be on these drugs until they’ve had a thorough specialist evaluation, along with a serious trial of scheduled doses of paracetemol (which is not an NSAID) and physical therapy. I’ve also seen people die, not from these drugs directly, but from the constipation they almost always cause. Not pretty.
As a result of overuse, we’re going to lose this weapon, probably within your lifetime. Upper respiratory infections are usually viral. Sinus infections respond better to decongestants. Of course, don’t take chances with an infection that’s getting worse when it should be getting better, especially if you have diabetes. But the next time you ask your doctor for an antibiotic, be careful – if you’re persistent, you might just receive it, whether you need it or not.