Real Simple

Healthy at Home

Adulthood has ushered in yet another thing that cries out for organizati­on: the pills we pop for our health.

- BY DANA WOOD

Find out if you’re taking more pills than you need

AT MY LAST CHECKUP, my primary care physician declared me to be in peak health. Yes, I could be more diligent about my vitamin D, but overall, this 58-year-old tennis addict’s lab results were pretty stellar—no problems with sugar, cholestero­l, or blood pressure.

But if I’m so hale and hearty, why is the baggie of meds I bring to my doctor getting bigger each year? I feel like I’m swallowing a daily fistful of drugs and supplement­s, and it’s making me uncomforta­ble.

There’s levothyrox­ine for my sluggish thyroid, prescripti­on eye drops to ward off glaucoma, allergy meds for my itchy eyes and sniffling, and a twopronged hormone replacemen­t therapy protocol (progestero­ne pills and estrogen-testostero­ne cream). On the over-the-counter front, I gobble melatonin, Tylenol PM, and Olly Sleep gummies to help me drift off at night, plus anxiety fixes for the 3 a.m. wakeups: the amino acid GABA, the herb ashwagandh­a, and a wannabe-Xanax supplement called Pirate Chill that I pop despite the label’s cartoonish skull and crossbones.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 23.5 percent of Americans ages 40 to 79 take five or more prescripti­on drugs over a 30-day period. As we approach midlife, the ailments can add up. Menopause can bring a host of symptoms, from insomnia to migraines, says Richard Baron, MD, president and CEO of the American Board of Internal Medicine. “Given our faith in pills, we think, ‘Maybe if I take this, I’ll feel better.’”

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