Prescription drugs have been in the headlines recently, with many common medications currently facing shortages. Sometimes, though, something other than a supply chain issue makes doctors reluctant to pull out their prescription pads. “The worst thing about being a doctor is having to prescribe drugs that aren’t really effective and have really bad side effects.” Tony BenjaminMD, he says Better Life. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved more than 20,000 prescription drugs for marketing, so it stands to reason that not every doctor is a fan of every drug. Read on to read about five popular medications your doctor may be hesitant to prescribe and why they wish they never had to.
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“I always tell people not to waste antibiotics and only take them if you really need them,” says Benjamin. “Antibiotics are the only weapons we have against bacterial infections and should only be used when necessary.” Antibiotics are certainly a great and invaluable way to clear up bacterial infections such as strep throat. But doctors don’t want to prescribe them for ailments like a runny nose or the flu. Not only will antibiotics be of little use, but the side effects and possible long-term outcomes can be dangerous.
“Common side effects of antibiotics may include rash, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, or yeast infections,” says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “More serious side effects include: Clostridioides difficile infection (also called It is difficult or C. diff), which causes diarrhea that can lead to severe colon damage and death.
“The more we use [antibiotics]the more likely the bacteria will become resistant to them,” warns Benjamin. “This means that when we run out of treatments, people with infections that were easily cured before can die from them.”
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For people suffering from insomnia and related sleep disorders, medication can seem like a beacon of hope. After all, not getting the rest you need is bad for your health in a number of ways, both physically and mentally. The idea of a pill that can solve your sleep problems seems too good to be true, probably because it is.
“These medications are often considered safe, non-addictive ways to get a good night’s sleep,” notes Benjamin. “However, they can become highly addictive and cause serious side effects such as confusion, dizziness, blurred vision and drowsiness while driving,” as well as the risk of serious injury from falls.
“The dangerous effects of sleep medications range from seizures to depressed breathing,” warn the experts at the Addiction Center. “Some people also experience allergic reactions to sleeping pills that can cause shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea and swelling.”
Another drug that can help with sleep disorders, benzodiazepines “work to calm or sedate a person by increasing the level of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA in the brain,” explains the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Common benzodiazepines include diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), and clonazepam (Klonopin), among others.”
“These medications are often prescribed for anxiety, sleep problems, and to reduce withdrawal symptoms in people addicted to opioids,” warns Benjamin. “They can be extremely effective for these purposes, but they also have a high risk of dependence and addiction.” In addition, some studies have shown that benzodiazepines may increase the risk of dementia.
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“While birth control pills can be very beneficial, they can also cause side effects such as nausea, headaches, and mood swings,” says Benjamin. “Some studies even suggest they may increase the risk of blood clots and stroke.”
“All forms of hormonal birth control can cause a number of side effects,” advises Healthline. “Most are mild and may resolve after the first two to three months of taking the pill.”
Although Healthline notes that some of the more serious potential side effects of birth control pills are rare, they include blood clots, heart attack, stroke, liver cancer and gallbladder disease. “If you smoke or are over 35, your risk for these more serious side effects increases,” the site notes.
“Antipsychotics are drugs used to treat symptoms of psychosis such as delusions (eg, hearing voices), hallucinations, paranoia, or confused thinking,” according to Drugs.com. “They are used in the treatment of schizophrenia, severe depression and severe anxiety.” The site adds that antipsychotics can also be used to address some of the symptoms of bipolar disorder.
But doctors may be reluctant to prescribe antipsychotics because of the variety of side effects they can have. Medical News Today reports that while approximately seven million Americans take antipsychotic drugs, “some studies have suggested that antipsychotics may do more harm than good, especially in the long term. Some researchers have raised concerns about the toxic effects of these drugs, suggesting that patients may only benefit from the medication in the short term.”
“Antipsychotics can cause numerous dangerous side effects, such as weight gain and high blood sugar levels, which can lead to type 2 diabetes,” says Benjamin. “They can also cause tardive dyskinesia, a condition that causes involuntary movements of the face and body that can last for years after the medication is stopped.”
Of course, all of these medications have their place, and if your doctor is prescribing it, there’s likely a very good reason. If you have questions or concerns about any of the medications you are taking, discuss them with your healthcare provider. Never stop taking any prescribed medication except under the guidance of your doctor and pharmacist.
Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research and health agencies, but our content is not intended to replace professional guidance. When it comes to the medication you are taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your healthcare provider directly.