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