Prescription medications treat many conditions and are widely used by doctors when necessary. Some medications are relatively unknown to the general public because they treat rare diseases, while others are well known for their regular use, such as antibiotics to treat infections.
Some of the most common conditions that require regular medication use include high blood pressure, diabetes, allergies, cardiovascular disease, and high cholesterol. Their medications are among the most frequently prescribed around the world.
Many chronic diseases will worsen with time when not treated. Other conditions, such as hormonal imbalance, can lead to other health issues if undiagnosed or ignored. Contacting the appropriate doctor can help people get a handle on health issues before they become problematic. The proper treatment can significantly improve a person’s quality of life.
Medications have been used since ancient times, deriving from plants and animal sources. Today, prescription medications can help us overcome significant health issues and extend our lifespan – when used as directed.
Importance of Prescribed Medicines
Doctors prescribe medications to help people manage specific health conditions. Not taking the medications as prescribed can cause disease worsening and potential need for hospitalization. In extreme cases, death could occur.
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), medical treatment non-adherence causes 125,000 yearly deaths in the US. Those not taking their statin medications to lower cholesterol have an increased risk of dying by up to 25%. As many as 50% of people with chronic illness do not take their medications as prescribed. Poor medication adherence can increase yearly medical costs by up to $100 billion.
While the lists of most prescribed medications vary considerably among some countries, depending on the needs of the local population, the ones listed below have vital purposes for adults.
Here are 7 commonly prescribed medications (alphabetical order) and their uses:
Among the most common types of medications, antibiotics are often prescribed when unnecessary – in some cases due to patient insistence. Antibiotics treat bacterial infections. They cannot help viruses. The biggest concern with antibiotic overuse is that bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics, necessitating more potent drugs.
- Antihistamines and bronchodilators
These medications are sometimes confused with one another. Antihistamines help with allergy symptoms, and bronchodilators open the airways to improve breathing in patients with asthma.
- Albuterol: A short-acting medication to relieve asthma attack symptoms, albuterol is a bronchodilator that works to open the airways for 4 to 6 hours. It is not an allergy treatment.
- H-1 receptor antagonists (H-1 blockers): Antihistamines that treat allergy symptoms such as food allergies, allergic rhinitis, hives, insect bites, allergic conjunctivitis, and skin rashes.
- H-2 receptor antagonists (H-2 blockers): Antihistamines that treat gastrointestinal conditions, including ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and heartburn.
- Blood pressure medications
Doctors prescribe different medications to regulate blood pressure, depending on the patient’s needs. Some of the most common are listed below:
- Amlodipine (Norvasc): A calcium channel blocker, amlodipine helps relax and lower the pressure inside blood vessels.
- Lisinopril (Zestril): An angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) blocker, lisinopril inhibits the conversion of angiotensin I to angiotensin II, preventing aldosterone from affecting salt and water levels to help blood vessels relax and dropping blood volume to lower blood pressure.
- Losartan: As an angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB), losartan helps relax blood vessels to lower blood pressure. It can also reduce the risk of strokes in people with heart disease and slow long-term kidney damage in people with high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
- Metoprolol (Lopressor): A beta-blocker, metoprolol blocks the heart’s beta receptors to decrease cardiac output (how much blood the heart pumps to the body). Metoprolol also lowers heart rate to reduce heart stress.
- Human growth hormone (HGH)
Doctors prescribe HGH therapy to children with short stature and adults with growth hormone deficiency (GHD). HGH is a vital treatment for adults due to the many ways GHD can cause problems for the body, including the following common symptoms associated with growth hormone decline:
- Physiological: high cholesterol, insulin resistance, slow metabolism, temperature sensitivity, high blood sugar, reduced circulation, heart problems, decreased organ functions, reduced sexual desire and arousal, infertility, impaired hormone production
- Physical: muscle and bone loss, body aches, stiffness, wrinkles, sagging skin, dry skin, thinning skin, hair loss, thinning hair, slowed hair growth, brittle or chipping nails, slowed nail growth, internal organ shrinkage, height shrinkage, vaginal dryness, erectile dysfunction, hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain (especially abdominal fat)
- Mental: trouble concentrating, poor attention, impaired learning and retention, lack of focus, reduced cognitive processing, forgetfulness, memory loss (increased dementia risk)
- Emotional: depression, anxiety, irritability, stress, mood swings, lack of motivation, social isolation
HGH is a prescription medication that requires a diagnosis of GHD from a qualified doctor. A hormone specialist is the best person to contact for an HGH prescription. Learn more about how to get an HGH prescription online from a hormone specialist.
As one of the most commonly used medications to treat type 2 diabetes, metformin lowers blood sugar levels by decreasing the amount of sugar the liver produces. It also inhibits intestinal absorption of sugar and increases insulin sensitivity.
- Pain Medications
Doctors may prescribe over-the-counter or prescription medications to combat pain associated with various health and injury conditions, including the following:
- Analgesics: The first line of pain relief is often OTC medications such as acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Other analgesic medications that may be used for pain include:
- Antidepressants for neuropathic pain conditions, including chronic musculoskeletal pain, fibromyalgia, migraines, and tension headaches.
- Antiepileptic medications that lower neurotransmitter release, such as Gabapentin, which can help with nerve pain, shingles, epilepsy, seizures, fibromyalgia, and other conditions.
- Local anesthetics such as lidocaine for peripheral neuropathic pain.
- Hydrocodone: An opioid medication that can lead to substance abuse or misuse. Hydrocodone blocks the body’s mu-receptors that regulate feelings of pain. Doctors also prescribe hydrocodone with acetaminophen following trauma or surgery, as well as to help stop coughing.
High cholesterol is a significant issue that can lead to heart problems. Statin therapies help lower cholesterol. Here are some of the most common medications:
- Atorvastatin (Lipitor): Often the first prescribed treatment for high cholesterol, atorvastatin blocks liver enzymes that produce cholesterol.
- Simvastatin (Zocor): Similar to atorvastatin, simvastatin is a nighttime medication.
Taking medications as prescribed is crucial for optimum health. Cost, forgetfulness, side effects, and not understanding directions are some of the most common causes of not taking medications as prescribed.
Creating a schedule to help you remember when to take your medication may help, including taking it at the same time each day or with another action, such as eating, brushing your teeth, or going to bed. Pill containers can help portion out the day’s medication to make remembering if you have or have not taken your daily dose easier.
Always pack a few extra days’ worth of medications when you travel in case of delays, and always keep your medications with you in any carry-on luggage.
Contact a qualified healthcare provider if you are unsure if medication can help you. Diagnostic testing and the appropriate treatment can improve your health and quality of life.