Consumer Reports: Lifestyle changes to make before medication

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Consumer Reports has suggestions on ways you can take fewer medications and feel better. (WLS)

Are we hooked on pills? Americans are taking more prescription pills than ever before, and more than people in any other country. While some drugs are life-savers, others might be doing more harm than good. Consumer Reports has suggestions on ways you can take fewer meds, and feel better.

Much of the medication we take is lifesaving or at least life-improving, but a lot is not. Consumer Reports found that many Americans, and their physicians, have come to think that every symptom, every hint of disease requires a drug.

"Doctors often diagnose the "pre-disease" stage of a condition, for example, prediabetes or preostesoperosis. Sometimes they may put patients on medications to treat that. The problem is, the medication may not work well and poses potential side effects and risks to patients," said Lisa Gill of Consumer Reports.

Of course, catching or treating a disease before it progresses can be a good thing if it helps you address a problem before it leads to serious harm.

But drugs shouldn't always be the first line of treatment. Consumer Reports has compiled a list of 12 medical issues where lifestyle changes can be "prescribed" before a medication.

"For back and joint pain, instead of powerful opioid drugs, consider instead, yoga, tai chi, even physical therapy," Gill said.

Of course big lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, being more active, or losing weight are harder than just swallowing a pill, but the payoffs can mean healthy, drug-free and side effect-free living.

Consumer Reports stresses that it's important to act, but not overreact, if your doctor says you're at the "pre-disease" stage of a condition. For more, you can check out Consumer Reports' piece "12 Times to Try Lifestyle Changes Before Drugs" in the September issue and online.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2017 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit

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