why suffer when you don't have to?

Many people are very resistant to taking any sort of medication, be it over-the-counter, prescription, or herbal remedy. People will, for example, suffer for hours with a headache before finally taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen. They'll sneeze, cough and rub their eyes raw before trying an allergy medication. And when it comes to prescription drugs, many people are loathe to take anything at all, for any reason. Some people will try anything called "herbal" or "natural," but will resist taking any prescription drugs.

These people, I have observed, are not necessarily health-conscious. They will drink soda (pop) full of artificial colours, flavours and processed sugar; they'll eat processed food and junk food. They don't necessarily exercise. Some even smoke. Many have taken drugs recreationally at least at some point in their lives. But when it comes to prescription drugs: no way.

I'm not talking about people who are suffering from AIDS or other serious conditions who need twenty different medications to get through a day. I mean things like taking Advil for a headache, or Claritin for seasonal allergies, or some common prescription drug used to treat common conditions.

I know that all drugs have side effects, but not everyone experiences those, and sometimes the side effect is very mild compared to the condition the drug is used to treat. That's not always the case - I've had some wild side effects myself - but for most commonly prescribed drugs, side effects are temporary, or mild, or both.

And of course I know that ingesting too much of any drug is dangerous. Swallowing handfuls of ibuprofen every day can fry your liver and tear up your gastrointestinal tract. But taking Advil for the occasional headache is not going to give an otherwise healthy person an ulcer or liver disease.

I've heard many people say, "I try never to take anything like that if I can help it," or "I try to wait until it's really, really bad before I take anything". I never understand it.

Pain is more easily stopped in early stages, before your body is in full-on, raging pain mode. Allergic reactions are easier to prevent than reverse: once your body is having a histamine reaction, it's much harder to get under control than it is to prevent the reaction in the first place. And above all, what about personal comfort? Why suffer if you don't have to? Yet so many people would rather suffer than take a drug.

I've needed various prescription meds for as long as I can remember. I take them because I need them, and I don't attach special meaning to that need, any more than I do to wearing glasses. I don't know if this is because I grew up in a home where there was some chronic illness, or because there are health professionals in my family, or whatever else, but it's never bothered me. Not that illness has never bothered me, but the need to take medications in of itself does not.

So, health care professionals and medication-shunners out there, help me understand this.

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