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Prescription for Health

When your doc's directions differ from FDA recommendations

Have you ever wondered why, your doctor’s directions is different from the FDA when it comes to taking certain medications?

These days, we are able to get acid reflux medications called proton pump inhibitors, such as Nexium or Prilosec over the counter, as opposed to just five years ago, when these were only available with a prescription.

But with change, comes regulation. The FDA is trying to regulate how physicians are prescribing. For instance, too many physicians are not taking the time out to actually rule out all possibilities to find out what condition a patient is suffering from. The patient may come in with food poisoning, gallstones, or a hiatal hernia, and instead of looking at their condition on a broader scope, some doctors prescribe a medication that is completely unrelated to treating the patient’s condition, and becomes more of a burden for the patient.

It is very important to be as descriptive with your doctor when it comes to your symptoms and medications you are taking to ensure the physician’s accuracy in treating you. While it may be easier to beat the co-pay and take a medication similar to a prescription, keep this in mind. All medications, whether over-the-counter or not should all be passed through your physician. The reasoning behind this, is to ensure that taking prescribed medications won’t interfere with over-the-counter meds and vice versa.

The time period when you started taking the medication is also very important, as this is sometimes overlooked during your consultation. Taking medication for a long period of time can put a toll on your body and may put you at risk for developing serious side effects and building up resistance or maybe even addiction to the medication.

If you are planning on stopping any medication, please let your physician know prior to just stopping the medication altogether. Certain medications, like Prilosec, if taken for long periods of time can build up a tolerance, and a sudden stop may bring on a huge surge and increase your acid reflux, an increase in fracture risk from osteoporosis and a decrease in vitamin B12, leaving you with few over-the-counter options to alleviate your symptoms.

Now, if you’re looking at an alternative like TUMS, this can help block acid and increase your calcium with minimal side effects, but carefully reading and following the instructions is a must. Just because these are sold over the counter doesn’t make them less dangerous.

If your doctor is telling you to take more than the recommended dosage, there may be a specific reason for this. Since you are under your physician’s care, you may benefit from taking more of that specific medication, but take note they will be following you closely and you should follow up with your physician if you have any side effects or symptoms persist.

So, please keep all of these recommendations in mind while at your next doctor’s appointment and being transparent with your doctor will keep the consistency of medication side effects down to a minimum.

Dr. David B. Samadi is the Chairman of the Department of Urology and Chief of Robotic Surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. He is a board-certified urologist, specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of urological disease, with a focus on robotic prostate cancer treatments. Dr. Samadi joined Fox News Channel in 2009 as a medical contributor. To learn more please visit his websites and Find Dr. Samadi on Facebook.