Why Taking Your Medications for These Common “Silent” Diseases is Important

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Roni Shye
Roni Shye, PharmD BCGP BCACP, is a licensed pharmacist in the states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
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If you’ve ever been afraid to show up at your doctor’s office because you’ve been “bad” then this post is for YOU!  You may think your doctor is “pushing medications on you” especially if you aren’t experiencing any symptoms of the condition they are treating you for. However, their reasoning is not without sound medical and professional judgment. 

One of the many reasons you might receive a lecture about the importance of taking your medications is due to the progressive nature of many diseases if not properly treated. The following are common disease states that are often “silent” and can be deadly if not properly managed.   

Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood sugar is too high. Blood sugar is your main source of energy and comes from the food you eat. There are several different types of diabetes, with the most common being type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Signs and symptoms of uncontrolled high blood sugar can oftentimes be overlooked, as you may not be able to tell. Some signs that are associated with low blood sugar include increased thirst and urination, blurry vision, lethargy, and frequent headaches.

Some people will stop taking their medication or take them inconsistently due to not “feeling” any different whether they take them or not.  This is a more common occurrence with type 2 diabetics but has happened in type 1 diabetics who forgo their insulin.

Diabetes is one of many diseases that is often referred to as a “silent killer” as it can lead to amputations, vision loss, heart attack, stroke, sexual dysfunction, bladder problems, and kidney disease if poorly controlled.

Patients with diabetes may control their diabetes with injectable medications like Humalog, Novolog, Humulin, Lantus, and Tresiba, or oral medications like metformin, glipizide, glimepiride, and invokana

High blood pressure

High blood pressure occurs when the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels is consistently too high and can damage or weaken your blood vessels. However, it can’t physically be felt, as there are no obvious symptoms indicating something is wrong. You will need to visit your doctor to determine if you have high blood pressure.

Also referred to as a ‘silent killer,’ consequences of poorly controlled high blood pressure may include heart attack, stroke, vision loss, heart or kidney failure, and sexual dysfunction.

Patients may take oral medications like lisinopril (Zestril, Prinivil), losartan, hydrochlorothiazide, amlodipine, and metoprolol to control their high blood pressure.

High cholesterol

Cholesterol is a substance your body needs to build cells. However, there is bad cholesterol (LDL, and triglycerides) and good cholesterol (HDL).

Too much of the bad kind and not enough of the good kind increases the chances that cholesterol will begin to build up in the inner walls of arteries.  Over time, this buildup can narrow or completely block the arteries leading to a variety of serious, life-threatening problems.

You can’t physically feel if you have high cholesterol and usually don’t know unless something bad happens or through routine blood work called a lipid panel. If not treated properly, high cholesterol can lead to heart attack, stroke, and chest pain. 

People with high cholesterol will typically take oral medications like atorvastatin, simvastatin, pravastatin, fenofibrate, and zetia.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone, or both. As a result, bones become weak and may break from a fall, or, in serious cases, from sneezing or minor bumps. Osteoporosis affects both men and women, and as our bodies age the likelihood of developing osteoporosis increases.

Breaking a bone is often one of the first indications that you may have osteoporosis. People with osteoporosis most often break bones in the hip, spine, and wrist. You may also notice that you are getting shorter, or your upper back is beginning to curve forward. These symptoms may also indicate that you may have osteoporosis.

Consequences of untreated osteoporosis include one fracture, broken bones, pain, and limited mobility.

Osteoporosis treatments may include medications like fosamax, boniva, actonel, prolia, and reclast.

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