Could It Be My Meds?


No medicine goes straight to its desired target and does just what you or your doctor want it to do. Almost all medicines have over a thousand actions, many of which we still do not know about or understand. The desired action may not even be the most common thing your drug does.

When our lives are threatened, and it is worth taking some risks, most all of us will, without thinking, take the risks that come with taking one drug for the benefit of the treatment. Even if things go wrong, the human body is great at bouncing back.

The calculations we need to make become more complicated when we are faced with taking several medicines at the same time and taking them for longer periods of time or indefinitely.

Understanding Drug Research Limitations

Everything we know about drugs comes from seeing what one drug does, for short periods of time, in clinical practice or in controlled trials. It has only recently been recognized that, in the case of people on several drugs at the same time, we simply do not know for instance which of the multiple drugs they may be on that can cause a fall, for example.

In addition to drugs that can all cause falls by making us dizzy or dropping our blood pressure, taking several drugs together can lead to interactions. From blood levels, to nausea, there are countless side effects, some of which are still unknown or unresearched.

Each Person Is Unique

To add to that confusion, a person’s unique physiology will also contribute to how the body reacts. The technical term for studying this phenomenon is “pharmacokinetics.” Researchers use four main topics to examine in this field, including: absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion Because some of us also have genes that break down certain drugs very slowly, even if that is the only one we are taking, or the opposite, very quickly, such studies can be limited in addressing risk over benefit.

An Age Factor

There are other factors for us to take into account as we age, too. The clinical trials of drugs have rarely been done on older adults. They are usually done on young people. This means that we may effectively end up on higher doses of drugs if we take the dose that is right for a younger person. Women may also need to adjust doses that are set for younger men. Many factors contribute to your individual reaction to medication.