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Book review: 'Are Your Meds Making You Sick?' a guide to staying alive

Published: Friday, Nov. 2 2012 5:05 p.m. MDT

"ARE YOUR MEDS MAKING YOU SICK?" by Robert Steven Gold, Hunter House Publishers, $16.95, 231 pages (nf)

"Are Your Meds Making You Sick?" is not only an interesting read the first time through, it's a handy book to stash on the shelf and use as a reference guide each time a new medication is prescribed.

Robert Steven Gold, who is a practicing pharmacist with 30 years experience and an instructor of clinical pharmacy at Purdue University, decided to write the book after he saw one too many prescribed interactions.

He's trying to sound the alarm, an alarm prompted when he noticed his own father suffering serious side effects from a prescribed drug that put his life at risk.

"Every year people make more than 700,000 trips to the ER because of adverse drug reactions," he writes on the book's cover. "Make sure you're not one of them."

Gold then goes through a series of true case studies where patients unwittingly mixed drugs in their systems that caused a variety of bad results from falls to a state of drugged delirium.

He makes a good case for checking things out, thinking things through and asking questions before adding any medication to the daily regimen.

He lines up 16 rules for safely using medications (remember to lower the dose for the elderly and the young; understand that all over-the-counter medicines, herbs and alcohol are all drugs; read the labels) and puts it into plain English. If your health changes when you add a new drug, suspect the new drug and/or its combination with what you're already taking.

He also makes it clear: Some common drug combinations can kill you or, at the very least, alter your state of mind and body. (In one case, the patient lost hearing with a combination of simple drugs including aspirin and Celebrex.)

Gold puts his information into little mystery scenarios that teach the reader how to define a problem. He includes a handy reference index that allows for a quick check of the meds around the house and puts things into practical prose.

Anyone who is on multiple medications or who has a condition such as diabetes or heart problems ought to read through this manual.

Although initially it could trigger some serious paranoia, it's good to have this information tucked away in the memory banks.

Gold told The Deseret News recently that he wrote the book with the hope that he could get the word out regarding recognizing and preventing adverse drug reactions.

He's concerned that people are not paying better attention.

"To date (Oct. 19) the book has sold 2,136 books," Gold said. "So, unfortunately it is not having the result I would like. I think the topic needs addressed by the media in a way that my book does."

If the book takes off, he plans to include additional chapters, on new types of adverse drug reactions he is seeing, for example, meds affecting sleep apnea and tablets that are injected that cause heart and lung issues.

Readers can get a copy at www.areyourmedsmakingyousick.com

Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with 35 years experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.

Email: haddoc@desnews.com

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