Whenever people go to the doctor for an ailment, they often expect to walk out the door with a prescription in hand. Ideally, that prescription will help treat the problem.
Unfortunately, prescriptions aren’t always the magic answer you need.
Prescriptions often address symptoms, not the underlying cause. If you’re sick, they’ll get rid of some of the symptoms of the sickness, but they sometimes won’t treat what it is that actually is making you sick.
Prescriptions are often expensive. Some prescription drugs are reasonable. Others can cost you an arm and a leg.
Prescription drugs often come with side effects, some of them nasty. A few years ago, I was prescribed Bactrim for a severe sinus infection. Two days later, all of my skin turned bright red and I didn’t have enough energy to climb out of bed. The period when I was recovering from Bactrim left me bedridden, and since it was the start of winter, it ended up triggering the worst case of seasonal affective disorder I’ve ever had. The side effects of medications can really hit you hard.
While prescriptions can be a help for your situation, it can be a real expense and cause other problems. Thankfully, there’s a simple way to improve your situation and it usually doesn’t cost a dime. Just ask your doctor about independent steps you can take to improve your situation.
For example, let’s say you have hypertension. One of the best things a person with hypertension can do is lose some weight, as being overweight is one of the biggest triggers for high blood pressure. You can take high blood pressure medication, but a diet designed to help with hypertension and an exercise program geared toward weight loss can have much more of an impact than a medication ever could. Once you have control of the hypertension, you might not need the expensive prescriptions at all.
You can make similar cases for almost every illness or injury. There are almost always independent things you can do to either help cure the illness or reduce the impact of the symptoms.
There’s a huge physical, mental, and financial reward for following through on independent steps. You’ll feel better. You’ll lose much of the stress you feel about your ailment. You’ll save on prescriptions and on doctor’s visits, both in the short term and over the long term.
Independent steps can be a challenge. I know first hand how challenging it can be to make significant changes to your life. Changing your diet or your activity routine can be incredibly hard.
The rewards you earn for those changes can be tremendous, though, not only in terms of your finances, but in terms of your well being.
The next time you’re at the doctor and facing medication for a condition, ask him what independent steps you can take to address the problem itself, and then push yourself to follow those recommendations. The path may be hard, but the rewards are immense.
This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere. Images courtesy of Brittany Lynne Photography, the proprietor of which is my “photography intern” for this project.