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I often wonder in this day and age, do we rely too heavily on medications?

Now don’t get me wrong. I am NOT an anti-medication, anti-western medicine, naturopathic, healthy-eating-hippy type! (Although everyone to his own!)

I’m just a regular mum, with a nursing degree, so I know a little bit about drugs and pharmacology. Nurses spend a huge amount of time dealing with drugs and medicine administration. It is estimated to take up to 40% of a clinical nurse’s time!

Fact 1: A low-grade temperature/ fever usually DOES NOT require medication (an antipyretic agent)

The body raising its temperature is a natural response to illness or infection, so a low-grade temperature (around 38 degrees Celsius, or 100 degrees Fahrenheit) is your body’s way of fighting an infection! It is argued that treating a low-grade temperature can actually prolong the infection.

Many people (and parents) jump at the slight elevation of a temperature and are too quick to medicate with paracetamol or ibuprofen.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that antipyretics only be used if the person with a temperature appears unwell or has other symptoms. They should not be used routinely with the sole purpose of lowing a slight temperature.

THE ACCOMPANYING SYMPTOMS are what to watch out for. Low-grade fevers can occasionally accompany serious medical conditions. 

Fact 2: Antibiotics are ineffective for 90 % of respiratory infections

Most upper respiratory tract infections and common colds are caused by viruses, and antibiotics are useless in treating these. So don’t beg your doctor for an antibiotic when you have a cold! Doctors have several ways to determine and make a best judgement whether they believe your infection is bacterial or viral (you can also look these up online, but doctors have years of training and experience to go on, too).

Many studies have shown that the overuse of antibiotics has led to them becoming less effective, and that ‘super-strains’ of bacteria resistant to treatment are now emerging. This is a HUGE global public-health dilemma, which could lead to countless deaths.

Fact 3: Lifestyle changes can be AS important as medication in preventing heart attacks and strokes

Heart attacks and strokes are the highest ranking causes of death in the United Kingdom. Research has shown that lifestyle changes can be just as effective and sometimes more important than simply ‘adding a pill’ to decrease your risk of having a stroke or heart attack.

These lifestyle changes include: quitting smoking, limiting the amount of alcohol you consume, lowering your cholesterol levels, improving your diet, increasing your amount of daily exercise, and by maintaining a healthy weight or BMI (body mass index).

These changes can reduce your risk of problems such as atherosclerosis (where arteries become clogged up by fatty substances), high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol levels, all of which are important risk factors for strokes (brain attacks) and myocardial infarction (heart attacks). Yes, there are certainly various classes of drugs that are very beneficial for reducing risk also.

In a nutshell, medication is good and necessary in certain circumstances, but should be taken with care and consideration. We can’t rely on drugs alone to cure all 

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