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Are you taking too many pills?

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ATLANTA -

It's a startling statistic.

A recent study found nearly half of Americans have taken at least one prescription drug in the 30 days, and that includes 1 in 4 kids.

"The reason why most of us are still here is because of medications. They are fastest growing area in the healthcare delivery system," says Dr. Peter Fitzpatrick, a pharmacist and Chair of the Department of Healthcare Management at Clayton State University, Dr. Fitzpatrick, who has done everything from teach to own a pharmacy, says many of us are taking too many pills, especially when it comes to antibiotics, and analgesics, or pain medication.

"Here in Georgia, we have a huge problem with the abuse of prescription drugs, in particular, that are gotten through legal channels, basically over-prescribed.”

If you suspect you may be taking too many pills, make a list of the medications you are using, and why you take them.

Plus, if you're not sure, take the list with you on your next doctor's visit and ask. Fitzpatrick says try not to push back when your physician says a pill may not be the best choice for you.

"There is the sense that if I go to a doctor and the doctor doesn't give me a prescription, I’m kind of getting ripped off or a high level of care."

The drawback of wanting a quick fix is that you may be taking drugs you don't need. That can raise your risk of problems, like antibiotic resistance... or side effects from the medication itself.

All drugs come with some risk.

So, If your doctor prescribes a new drug, make sure you understand why you need it and whether there are any other options you have besides medication.

"I think most people don't want to take medications, but if they are being given medication by their healthcare provider, they are going to take it," says Fitzpatrick.

He also recommends having your prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy. It’s more likely to keep track of your medications you’re taking and spot any potential problems.

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