Adverse Reactions–Do You Recognize Them?
Ah yes, you needed a medicine to make you feel better. We all sometimes end up with medicines though statistically speaking medicines cause more harm than good. While the number of death from heroin, an illegal substance, was under 14,000 people in the US in 2014, in the same year the number of people who died as a result of adverse reaction from prescription medicines was close to 30,000. Medical errors, including the prescription of the wrong medicine or adverse effects from it, represent the third leading cause of death in the US, and many of those go unreported or end up believed to have been caused by natural causes. Some studies claim that the death rates from medical errors, including the wrong prescription medications used, claim over 180,000 lives are lost annually. Even this report is an underestimation because it only includes Medicare findings. If someone dies from the wrong prescription medicine who is not on Medicare, or the hospital does not receive Medicare benefits for care, the death of those is not included in this data. We have a problem.
I think part of the problem is in advertisements. I have a serious problem with the pharmaceutical industry that advertises prescription medicines on television for people who then grow an expectation of receiving the particular medicine from their doctors—regardless if that is a beneficial medicine for them or not! Including medicines for depression or chronic pain.
We outlawed alcohol advertisements on television yet only 2,200 people are reported by the CDC to die in alcohol poisoning annually, quite a bit shy from prescription drug caused death.
Why do we not outlaw prescription drug advertisements?
It would be a logical step to reduce drug awareness of the public and thereby their expectations from their doctors. One of the reasons why antibiotic resistance is so rampant is that people with viral infections, who don’t need antibiotics, consider they received substandard medical care if they don’t receive antibiotics. It is a reverse world where doctors are considered to be substandard if they don’t prescribe medicine.
While most medicine adverse effects are reported to the FDA MedWatch system, either by the patients themselves or responsible doctors, not all people report problems and not all adverse effects are reportable! Some adverse effects you may not realize was caused by a particular medicine you may have taken a month earlier!
The Case of Corticosteroids for Inflammation
Take the case of having to take a corticosteroid medicine (prednisone or prednisolone). It is a medicine that is so frequently prescribed that I don’t even know a single person who has not had to take it at least once in their lives. Of course, a caring physician or pharmacist will explain to take it with food, don’t drink alcohol while taking it, etc. However, here is an adverse effect you probably have never heard of and unless I tell you about it, you never would hear either.
Corticosteroids and Type II Diabetes
Not a typo: taking corticosteroid medicines, like prednisone, can cause type II diabetes. This is not an adverse reaction you will read anywhere and chances of it being reported are pretty much zero since no one will notice! I noticed it by accident! I do not have diabetes of any kind and I am on the ketogenic diet for good health (not weight loss) and migraine-free life. However, I caught a viral bronchitis. Because I also have asthma, I was immediately placed on prednisone.
On the ketogenic diet a person does not eat any sugar or sweets—in my case not even sugar substitutes—and also no fruits or vegetables much since the carbohydrate restriction is great plus I feel way better without any. It is a high fat and moderately low protein diet with minimal carbs if any. I monitor my ketosis level by both urine and blood test to be sure I am within my desired range of nutritional ketosis. I have a sweet spot comfort zone that I wish to stay within, which provides perfect glucose homeostasis. I thus measure my blood glucose—particularly after exercise—to see how much glycogen my liver dumped back into my body for glucose energy (from protein metabolism) so I can return to my homeostasis.
Like glucose, Prednisone (and all steroid medicines) use insulin receptors to be carried around in the body. Since corticosteroid is a very important anti-inflammatory in the body, it has priority over glucose when it comes to insulin. Therefore, all available insulin receptors are tied down with steroid delivery while glucose backs up in waiting. When glucose backs up in your blood, two very important things happen:
1) your brain or muscles are not getting glucose for energy and so the liver keeps on dumping more and more glycogen (glycogen is what the liver saves as glucose for later use) back into your blood as glucose but insulin is not responding. So while you are full of glucose, you are basically starving as far as your brain is concerned!
2) As glucose is backed up, it builds up to considerably high glucose levels (my glucose reader showed 200!) mimicking insulin resistance. Keep this up for longer periods and you will end up with insulin resistance.
As you know, insulin resistance is the hallmark of type II diabetes. Taking steroids for a short course of no more than a 7-day dose pack will not likely to harm you on a regular diet. In my case it did, since I was promptly kicked out of ketosis with the scariest side effects. My blood test for ketosis (measures beta hydroxybutyrate) showed near zero level ketosis but my urine keto strips showed I was in major diabetic acidosis (that can be fatal)! There are no manuals to understand what happened and no adverse reaction report can be made. This is one of those adverse reactions that never show up anywhere and is also not ever told to you by any doctor—if you are lucky enough to find one who is even familiar with the term ketosis.
It sure gave me a great scare and major brain-work to figure it all out. I realized the importance lack of information in deaths caused by prescription medicines! I also recognized that steroids can cause type II diabetes. I know I am not the only one who had to take steroid for a cold for a short duration; I also know people who take steroids for months or years. Workout buffs trying to increase their muscles are in great danger of ending up with type II diabetes. Please tell them!
Comments are welcomed, as always!
More people should realize that just because the doctor wants you to take something, that doesn’t mean you have to. Of course this presupposes that one is fairly well informed. The prime example these days is statins, which I personally consider to be almost pure evil.
I have a rare autoimmune progressive peripheral neuropathy, which is often permanently exacerbated by corticosteroids. Therefore I refuse to take them, even though they are routinely given prior to immunoglobulin therapy to prevent side effects. Many people with my condition don’t know this and their doctors don’t know the risk.
The more I read about this stuff, the more appalled I am at the hubris of Western medicine, arrogantly throwing monkey wrenches here and there into the incredibly complex interrelated collection of feedback mechanisms that is the human body. I’m not saying that all medical treatments or pharmaceuticals are bad–modern medicine is indeed miraculous in many ways–but that doesn’t mean that it’s all good, and we, as the beneficiaries and victims of it, have a duty to be as well informed as possible, both about the science and the undue influence of Big Pharma and hidebound thinking.
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I totally agree Colleen. I think that educating the public is the only possible (and most powerful) force against the hubris of big pharma and ignorant medicinal education. I understand why doctors and researchers (not to mention regulating agencies) see no connections though and I don’t blame them for that.
The field of medicine is so complex that it is impossible (humanly impossible) to understand its details as well as see the larger picture. This is sort of like the Newtonian world in which we can touch that solid wood table versus the particles world in which that table is a moving thing without any edges.
Looking at the table you cannot see the electrons and looking at the electrons you cannot see the table.
I can see medicine is completely identical to this. I am now reading a 30-pound book of 1300 colored printed pages. The whole book on every page has at least 20 bolded words to commit to memory (this is a refresher for me in its latest edition but it is a mid-level pre-med book) just on the biochemistry of cellular metabolism. In addition to the bolded words, about half of each page is written with jargon assuming you already know what those words mean–not what those words represent in terms of action of function; just a rough knowledge.
This is what it takes to understand how a glass of orange juice for breakfast will affect a person? I am not surprised that no one can see what the juice does. If they are at the level of the ATP generation mechanism details, they cannot see the orange juice. And if they are looking at the orange juice level, they cannot possibly relate to the electrons that spin in the mitochondrial membrane to create ATP using lipids. I understand the conflict of possible knowledge spheres only a don’t understand the corruption that encircles it to make it even harder to see.
MDs are not nutritionists (to some degree that is both good and bad) and are also not scientists. MD is a degree of art and not that of science. I get that (many people don’t). The role of an MD is to memorize all those bolded words and without much understanding why, prescribe statins because she/he is told to do so by the books, which were written by professors whose research was funded by the statins, sugar, grains, boxed-commercialized-refined sugar-oh-so-healthy foods, and hydrogenated oils manufacturing industries.
Articles submitted for publishing trying to tell the truth have always been refused from publication–and they still are today! Even those doctors who would like to update their knowledge cannot do so since only BS papers get published! They have no way of knowing the truth!
Then we have people like the Nina Teicholz and Gary Taubes of the world who went out of their ways to find the research hidden by the NHI unpublished (crime by all means!) and all the crockery and fraud in the research that was published and explained clearly why we are all sick but these are a handful of people against political forces in the millions. Big Pharma is hiding and making millions by enforcing that doctors should have no access to information and that no researcher should be able to publish anything without a clinical trial–though they themselves have a rather dubious way of doing their clinical trials. For example, off-label prescribing is a “clinical trial” of sorts… only the experiments subjects (you and I and others) have never ever signed a consent and no ethical board would ever accept their findings but big pharma managed to pull that through somehow!
I love to see the legal disclaimers that are longer than the TV ads for the meds themselves and love it even more when a medicine is advertised followed by a law firm advertising for a lawsuit if you took the previously advertised medicine. This is usually better than the show I watch!
In any case, I believe in no medicines at all. Take the case of migraines. I specialized in that after I received my PhD (not with migraine specialty!) because I had (note past tense) migraines and I had enough of living in a world of pain and fog drugged up. And I found a solution, which is based on the understanding of several genetic mutational problems and a special hyper sensory organ brain that simply needs more voltage power than other brains do. This solution so far worked for over 4000 people. They also have stopped whatever meds they were taking (like I did) since once you have no pain, meds are not needed.
Do you suppose I am able to publish anything at all?
I think you know my answer. 🙂 But there is a grassroots movement… it will reach the threshold number at one point. ❤
I agree with you on banning prescription drug advertisements. I always thought it was ludicrous that they spend so much money marketing products to people that cannot buy them.
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Thanks Dan though your reasoning is very different from what I wrote: you want to buy them… I want my doctor to tell me what I need to buy and not me to tell my doctor what I WANT to buy. There is a difference. Drugs will not reduce in price just because advertisement costs went down on television… if the pharmaceuticals cannot advertise on TV, rest assured they will quadruple their sales force and the amount of money they invest in doctors to make sure their brand of medicines are prescribed. We don’t gain financially, only save grace by letting our doctors decide what we need and not based on a TV ad.
I also want to point out that medicine advertisements for conditions that are preventable, such as type 2 diabetes, gout, IBS, and many more, send the message “go ahead and eat that cake and then just take the medicine to help you feel well again.” That is just wrong! If someone has type 2 diabetes, his or her doctor should advise to stop all sweets! End of story. If it is preventable, prevent it! That is my message here.