Saturday, 17 November 2012

Stop the medication train, the elderly want to get off

Overmedication (“polypharmacy”) in the elderly is a problem. The debate about the appropriateness of individual medications is one thing, but when you are taking 5 or more different medications multiple times per day, the physical act of simply taking the medication is a problem, let alone the adverse effects and interactions of all these medications. So what happens when you stop taking them? You feel better, that’s what happens.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Lessons from history #4: RSI

Repetitive Strain (or ‘Stress’) Injury (RSI) is a syndrome of arm / hand pain associated with certain activities. It is not a disease. It is not an injury, there is no physical evidence of stress or strain, and it bears little correlation with repetitive use. It is a social construct, influenced more by psychosocial factors than mechanical factors, and has no clear biological basis. Its history shows us how ‘unstable’ such labels are. Yet despite being easy to refute, labels like these persist. They persist because they serve a purpose and appear to fill a gap in our knowledge, and they are more socially acceptable and easy to understand than the truth. They are examples of medicalization.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Opioids: the real opium of the masses

Opioids are strong pain killing drugs that mimic the body’s own chemicals. Examples of prescription opioids include heroin (which metabolises to morphine and was banned after 1925), morphine, oxycodone and hydrocodone. As pain killers for acute pain, opioids work. However, over longer periods they become less effective, have more adverse effects, and can lead to tolerance, dependence, addiction, increased pain, and death. Here are some facts about long-term opioid use.