What Our Prescriptions Say About Us
Every year, the population of the US fills out about four billion prescriptions and that number is rising between 1999 and 2012, prescription drug use rose from 51 to 59 percent. Some of the most commonly filled prescriptions are for medicines to treat high blood pressure or lower cholesterol and middle-aged and older Americans are on more medication now than ever before.
In this article, we’ll be looking at the most commonly prescribed drugs in the US and what those drugs say about the overall health of the nation. So, in no particular order, here are the top 6 most commonly prescribed drugs in America.
Levothyroxine is a medicine used to treat an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism). The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck.
The thyroid gland makes the thyroid hormone which helps to control energy levels and growth. Thyroid hormones control the way the body uses energy, so they affect nearly every organ in your body, even the way your heartbeats. Without enough thyroid hormones, many of your body’s functions slow down, so Levothyroxine is taken to replace the missing thyroid hormone.
About 4.6 percent of the U.S. population ages 12 and older have hypothyroidism and women are much more likely than men to develop hypothyroidism, with 1 in 8 women developing the disorder.
Albuterol is a bronchodilator that relaxes muscles in the airways and increases airflow to the lungs.
Albuterol inhalation is used to treat or prevent bronchospasm, or narrowing of the airways in the lungs, in people with asthma or certain types of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It is also used to prevent exercise-induced bronchospasm.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 13 people have asthma, so that is more than 25 million Americans. Asthma is the leading chronic disease in children.
Metformin is a medicine used to treat type 2 diabetes and to help prevent type 2 diabetes if you’re at high risk of developing it.
Type 2 diabetes is an illness where the body does not make enough insulin, or the insulin that it makes does not work properly. This can cause high blood sugar levels (hyperglycaemia).
Metformin works by reducing the amount of sugar your liver releases into your blood. It also makes your body respond better to insulin. Insulin is the hormone that controls the level of sugar in your blood.
More than 34 million Americans have diabetes (about 1 in 10), and approximately 90-95% of them have type 2 diabetes.
This combination medication is used to relieve moderate to severe pain. It contains an opioid (narcotic) pain reliever (hydrocodone) and a non-opioid pain reliever (acetaminophen). Hydrocodone works in the brain to change how your body feels and responds to pain.
Though it helps many people, this medication may sometimes cause addiction and suddenly stopping this medication may cause withdrawal, especially if you have used it for a long time or in high doses.
Atorvastatin belongs to a group of medicines called statins.
It’s used to lower cholesterol if you’ve been diagnosed with high blood cholesterol. It’s also taken to prevent heart disease, including heart attacks and strokes. Your doctor may prescribe atorvastatin if you have a family history of heart disease or a long-term health condition such as type 1 or type 2 diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis.
Amlodipine is a medicine used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension).
If you have high blood pressure, taking amlodipine helps prevent future heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. Amlodipine is also used to prevent chest pain caused by heart disease (angina).
Amlodipine works by lowering your blood pressure and making it easier for your heart to pump blood around your body.
With the exception of medicians used to treat congenital conditions such as asthma and hypothyroidism, the vast majority of drugs prescribed to Americans, in face seven out of the ten of them, are related to obesity and its side effects.
The obesity rate in the US has risen from 14% in 1962 to 42% in 2010 and the diabetes rate has more than doubled. Worryingly, the number of prescription opioids has also skyrocketed from 76 million in 1991 to 207 million in 2013.
The root of these problems is based on the fact that 80% of adults in the US to not meed the guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities suggested by the Surgeon General.
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